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To the Members of the State Board of Education.
GENTLEMEN :-It gives me much pleasure to report that during the year 1875, every city in the State whose population of ten thousand and upwards imposed on it compliance with the law of 1870 in maintaining free industrial drawing classes, has established such classes.
With regard to the success of these classes, it must be remembered that the difficulties which hindered their practical usefulness in the first few years are not altogether removed even now, and the absence of suitable and well-equipped class-rooms for different branches of study, with experienced and accomplished teachers to give instruction, is clearly discernible in many cities. Gradually, however, one after another of the localities most alive to the needs of industrial education are providing themselves with rooms properly lighted and arranged, and with examples for study well chosen and for the time sufficient; and through the action of the Normal Art-School, it will not be long before teachers will be available capable of taking charge of the various branches of art-education which are generally taught in an art-school.
The development of art-education in the State cannot go on faster than the development of public opinion which originates and sustains it; but there can be no question that the annual exhibitions of drawings from the free evening drawing classes of the State have rapidly matured public opinion on the subject.
The question now most frequently put is not whether it is possible to comply with the Act of 1870, or whether it would do any real good to trade and manufactures if it were thoroughly carried out, but rather " which is the best way of doing it,”-a change of material significance to have been brought about during the short space of five years. The answer to such a question I gave as fully as I could in my report of last year, and hope before long to see some manufacturing city in Massachusetts so alive to her material interests as to erect a building entirely devoted to instruction in art and science applied to industry ; and to found a school which shall make its products as famous for skill and taste as the trade schools of France did and do now for the country which was practical enough to establish them.
FREE EVENING DRAWING CLASSES. It would materially advance the soundness of the instruction given in these classes if school committees would not treat them in any way different from other classes under their control, with regard to the classification of scholars, arrangement of subjects for study, and application of rules for the management of the pupils. The study of drawing is as much a matter of progress from elementary to advanced features, from simple to more difficult work, as is the case with writing or arithmetic. Pupils who come to learn, and are entirely ignorant of a subject, are the last persons capable of deciding what they should do, and yet in many of the evening drawing classes they are allowed to pick and choose which exercise, out of many difficult subjects, such as machine drawing or building construction, they should begin with, before problems of geometrical drawing on which all such work is based have even been attempted by them.
The result is failure in the pupil and discouragement of the teacher. This does not happen in the day schools, and the reason is that in them the school committees and teachers do their share of the work, and that share is to direct and instruct the beginner in what is necessary and best for him to learn, rather than to allow him to select for himself. The greatest help the managers and instructors of these evening drawing classes can give to the pupils is to lay down a progressive course of study and require all who enter the classes to begin at the beginning, and to advance according to some definite plan, whether the subject be freehand or mechanical drawing.
In these classes, too, there should be reviews, examinations and promotions, as in the day schools, and for the first year of
instruction all the pupils should be taught by means of class lectures on the several elementary subjects, and not by individual teaching alone, which leaves many pupils too long without help and direction, and all without the full oral instruction from the blackboard which beginners require.
The objection to all this, that youths and adults in such classes would not like to begin at the elements, even though ignorant of them, can have no weight with practical men. There is no royal road by which ignorance, even though it be adult ignorance, can arrive at knowledge and power; and from such a delusion persons holding it may as well be delivered at first as at last, before much valuable time has been wasted, and the labor of both master and pupil thrown away,—the inevitable consequence without authoritative direction on the one hand and respect for authority on the other.
Before any teacher of a night drawing class is allowed to commence his work, he should be required to submit to the committee having such class in charge, a complete programme of the courses of lessons he proposes to give, by which every hour of the time devoted to instruction shall be profitably employed, dividing the courses into class lectures for beginners of the first year, and subjects of advanced instruction for those who have attended in previous years. This programme should include work done both in class and during intervals between lessons at home, and the whole should conclude by time examinations of the pupils and a public exhibition of their works.
I have for the past two years printed such a scheme of instruction for evening classes as an appendix to my annual report, for the convenience of those who may not feel competent to design such a scheme; and have on several occasions drawn up courses of study for school committees who desired me to do so.
DRAWING IN DAY SCHOOLS. It would be a gratification to me to be able to report that as all the cities have complied with the Act of 1870 with regard to evening classes, so all places, whether cities or towns, had similarly complied with it, in the section requiring drawing to be taught in the day schools, exempting none. This is not yet our
good fortune, and I think it is a very serious matter when the towns and school committees can be excused for non-compliance with the law because there is no penalty for breaking it. Much difficulty may have been experienced in qualifying the regular instructors of the schools to give the instruction, even when there has been a disposition to impart it to the scholars; but this difficulty has disappeared now, and qualified teachers from the Normal Art-School can be secured by all the school committees requiring them, without any delay and at a very slight expenditure. The only way in which industrial art-education can become general and its influence extend to the final object contemplated, is by the teaching of drawing to every child in the day schools. The evening drawing schools will do little good until the pupils approach them prepared by their practice in the day schools, and the only means by which public taste can be improved is by cultivating a perception and love of the beautiful in the mind and heart of every child, by means of drawing.
The drawing as taught in the schools should be essentially a preparation for the understanding and practice of industrial art—the first kind of art practised by all nations. The instruction should comprise both instrumental and freehand drawing, the first to cultivate a love for and habits of accuracy; the second to develop power and skill in the observation and expression of the inexact; one is not more important than the other, but either alone is a very helpless accomplishment, whilst the boy or man who can handle pencil and compasses with equal facility, is independent of either and master of the situation, whatever may be required of him in industrial art. ..
The subjects which seem to me to be required in Primary Schools, are knowledge of (1) geometric forms and definitions ; (2) practice in drawing, from flat copies and the blackboard, of simple objects and ornamental details ; (3) elementary design, i. e., exercises in filling simple geometric forms such as the square, triangle, circle or hexagon, with short lines, curved and straight, arranged symmetrically, as practised in kindergarten schools ; (4) drawing from dictation of exact forms in defined positions ; (5) drawing from memory of previously drawn exercises ; (6) learning the names, though not drawing the forms, of