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the ages of twelve and one-and-twenty," in John Milton's famous “ Tractate on Education," addressed to Samuel Hartlib.*
In this plan of an “ Academy” Milton says it should be “big enough to lodge one hundred and fifty persons all under the government of one head-master, who shall be thought of desert sufficient and ability either to do all or wisely to direct and oversee it done. This place should be at once both school and university, not needing a remove to any other house of scholarship except it be to some peculiar college of law or physic where they mean to be practitioners."
In the range of studies for Milton's plan of a school the classics were not ignored, though he was in favor of what is sometimes called practical learning. He would have the sciences taught as the subject matter of instruction, but by means of classic authors as far as possible. Indeed, his course of study in the classics is more extensive than has ever prevailed in any American college, and this course he recommended for boys between twelve and one-andtwenty. So, too, his notions about exercise by means of gymnastics and military drills were coincident with what are now deemed novelties, though as old as Greek culture in its best days.
No doubt the views of Milton had an influence with the English Nonconformists when they were allowed to have schools of their own, which, in their several grades, served for them the place of the grammar schools and universities from which, down to our day, they have been utterly excluded.
And some of the Puritan seminaries attained a wide celebrity a century before schools under the same appellation were known in America. There was a noted Academy at Kibworth in Leicestershire, at which Doddridge entered in 1718, and under the tuition of Mr. John Jennings received his classical and theological education.
Another celebrated Academy was at Northampton, over which Doddridge himself long presided. There was an Academy at London under the tutorship of Mr. Thomas Rowe, where Dr. Isaac Watts was educated, whose influence as a theologian with the ministers in New England in the last century was hardly less than it was in England.
We may be sure then that the schools of the English Independents would be regarded with favor in this country, being identical in aim with the leading seminaries of this country, for the colleges, Harvard and Yale, until the beginning of the present century, made it their great aim to provide the churches with what was called a learned ministry, though the standard of classical learning in these, then the highest American seminaries, was low enough to exempt them altogether from the imputation of having followed the example of the English Universities in their excessive devotion to classical learning. The history of what little learning has existed in America will show clearly that so long as Puritanism was predominant in the schools of New England, the views which prevailed in England or in Continental Europe as to the methods of education were not blindly followed.
* Milton's Tracate in Amer. Jour. of Ed., Vol. II, 178.
When the system of middle schools was originated by Judge Phillips, near the close of the American Revolution, though he adopted the appellation belonging to the schools of the English Dissenters, he did not imitate them in their plan of study, nor was their policy restricted to a particular system of administration. Milton's plan of a "school and college” blended together was discarded.
The Academy was made strictly subordinate to the college and · preparatory thereto in its range of studies, while one of its great objects was to supplement and extend the means of popular instruction. The first founders of Academies were men of the most enlarged and liberal policy, and regarded all grades of schools, in their mutual relations and interdependencies, as alike needful for the public good. The politician had not then been born who had thought of instituting comparisons as to the relative importance . of institutions which were alike essential to the glory of the commonwealth.
The impulse of a few minds, like Judge Phillips and Colonel Crafts to establish a new order of middle schools for the benefit of the whole people, was soon responded to by the public sentiment of Massachusetts. In 1789 the most important revision of the school laws was made, with a view to equalize and extend the benefits of common school instruction.
The school-district system then established, had for its object the welfare of every precinct and hamlet in the land. This measure, though energetically denounced by some modern educational functionaries, was approved universally at the time of its adoption. With the new impulse given to the elementary schools, the Academies were found to coöperate. For this reason, doubtless, the State of Massachusetts, in 1797, included the Academies already incorporated into her system of public instruction and provided for their support by liberal endowments. The State patronage was given in grants of land in the province of Maine.
It does not appear that the founders of Phillips Academy or of Leicester expected at first any aid from the State. In asking for charters, they sought only the rights and privileges of legal existence. But so marked was the beneficial influence of these new seminaries, that seven of the fifteen, which had been incorporated prior to 1797, had received donations of Maine land. Of these seven Leicester, Marblehead, and Taunton were in Massachusetts, and Fryeburg, Machias, Hallowell, and Berwick were in the Province.
In 1797 other Academies in Massachusetts petitioned for endowments, and in consequence the Legislature appointed a joint special committee to consider not only the petitions then presented, but to devise a plan of public policy respecting future appropriations in behalf of incorporated Academies.
The joint committee thus appointed, consisted of men of high standing and ability in the State among whom was Nathan Dane of Beverly, who was the reputed author of the report made to the Legislature. This report was deemed of such importance that it was ordered to be printed with the laws of the session of that year. Nathan Dane had become distinguished in Congress as the author of the famous ordinance of 1787 by which slavery was prohibited forever from the North-west Territory. Mr. Webster, in his speech on Foote's resolution, honored Mr. Dane as one of the noblest of Massachusetts statesmen.
Living at Beverly, in the vicinity of Dummer Academy, and knowing, as he must, the influence of that school on all the local schools of Essex county, Mr. Danecould appreciate fully the benefits of Academies every where, and hence he was desirous to extend such benefits to the entire population of Massachusetts and its then dependent province.
In the same way, Leicester had attracted general attention as a radiant light set upon a hill which could not be hid. Indeed, there was not a town in the central and southern sections of Worcester county, which did not derive important advantages from that institution, especially in the strong and abiding influence of such teachers as Ebenezer Adams on the character of great numbers who themselves became teachers in the common schools.
The report of Mr. Dane, recommended a general system of State endowments under certain provisions and restrictions, or conditions, the most important of which were “that no Academy should be encouraged by the Government unless it have a neighborhood to support it of at least thirty to forty thousand inhabitants not already accommodated in any other manner by other Academies, or by any college or school answering the purpose of an Academy.” Another condition of aid was, “ that every portion of the commonwealth ought to be equally entitled to grants of State lands in aid of private donations;" and thirdly, “ that no grant of State lands should be made except in aid of permanent funds given by towns, or by individuals. Hence, previous to receiving aid from the State, evidence was required to show that adequate funds were already secured to erect and repair buildings, to provide apparatus, and to pay a part of the salary of the preceptors."
In adopting this report as a part of the educational policy of the State not only Massachusetts immediately bestowed her endowments on the Academies already existing, but in accordance with the suggestions of the report of Mr. Dane provision was made for those parts of the State where as yet no Academy was located, in order to induce the people to establish such institutions and thus receive the patronage of the State if they complied with the conditions.
In a report made to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1859, the Hon. Chas. W. Upham, chairman of the joint committee of education, said, concerning the report of Mr. Dane, that the following principles were established in 1797 as determining the relations of Academies to the commonwealth, viz. :—“They were , to be regarded in many respects and to a considerable extent as public schools, as a part of an organized system of public and universal education, as opening the way for all the people to a higher order of instruction than the common schools can supply; that they were to be distributed as nearly as might be so as to accommodate the different districts or localities of the State according to the measure of the population."
In the same report Mr. Upham also says " that no Academy endowed by a town or a State is a private school. Academies are all. wa to a certain extent public schools established as such upon a legal-ized basis of public policy."
This fact is important as going to refute the argument against Academies, that as being chartered institutions they are legally private schools and can not claim the sympathy which public schools receive. If Academies and Colleges are private in a strictly legal sense because under the charge of corporators, yet are they public in the sense that they are not chartered for any personal or local ends, but only and altogether for the public service.
As well might a prejudice exist against railroads as less worthy of popular regard than common roads, seeing that the former are
two or more delegates from each district, together with all friends of popular education, and the district clerks and school commissioners. Though no constitution or formal organization was adopted, yet this Convention continued to hold its annual meetings regularly for twenty years, with results in no small degree beneficial to the interests of education throughout the county. Without giving a minute account of the proceedings of these several meetings, it will suffice to notice the more important measures that were acted upon and the results effected.
One of the greatest difficulties in the way of improvement was the repugnance of the people to taxation. At the meeting in 1837 it was sought to render the collection of a school tax, whenever voted by a district, less troublesome and offensive by a provision of the Legislature that its collection should be made conjointly with other taxes and not by special collectors. This recommendation was reported at subsequent meetings and the object was finally effected in 1843. That taxation should be obligatory upon the districts was not desired even by many of the most earnest friends of public schools. In January, 1843, a State School Convention was held at Dover, at which the existing school law was made the subject of discussion, and, as the only amendment which met with favor, the proposition to lay a tax of at least "fifty dollars upon each district, for the benefit of the school, was at first adopted, but afterwards, upon reconsideration, was rejected by a very large majority. It seemed inconsistent with republican principles that taxation for school purposes should be other than optional with each district, and the general opinion is shown in the following extract :-“The Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education declares that the cardinal principal which lies at the foundation of their educational system is, that all the children of the State shall be educated by the State. Let it be distinctly remarked that this is not the principle of our school system; but that our school system is founded upon the position that the people must educate their own children and that all the State should do, or can do for any useful effect, is to organize them into communities so as to act together for that purpose, and help and encourage them to act efficiently. To the full extent of its power the State has granted this help and encouragement by fair division among all of the school-districts of the income of the school fund. The school of every district is thus in the power of its school voters; they can have as good a school as they please, or an inferior school, or no school. The whole responsibility rests upon them, and the measure of that responsibility is the