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the collection, by the pupils of each school, of minerals, plants, &c., from its own neighborhood, and by the formation of collections of drawings, specimens of penmanship, sewing, &c., to be exchanged for similar or equivalent collections from other schools. These museums were to be made the basis of lectures on the various departments of natural science. The delivery of such lectures, in a plain and familiar style, and illustrated from materials every where at hand, had long been a means efficiently employed by Mr. Holbrook in operating upon the schools which he visited.
During his stay in New York, his friend, Mr. Seton, then Agent of the Public Schools, drew up with his assistance a scheme for applying his favorite principles of education to the schools in that city. This is to be found, under the title of “ Plan of Instruction," in the “ Fortieth Report of the Trustees of the Public Schools, for 1846." Its features are, his long-advocated plans of teaching drawing, in connection with writing and map-drawing, and its further prosecution to some extent as applied to machinery and architecture, and to natural objects; the collection of natural objects, the study of them, and oral lectures on them; and the system of school exchanges, as a means of extending the interest and value of the collections. A report on the progress of the plan, in the report of the Trustees for the succeeding year, indicates that its results were regarded as very favorable, so far as it was carried into effect.
In the Spring of 1849, Mr. Holbrook went to Washington, leaving his business in New York in the hands of an agent, intending to spend a few weeks in ascertaining what influences could be gained at that city in behalf of his enterprises. The results of his labors in the schools there and in that region, and his intercourse with public officers and members of congress, were such as to give him expectations of enlisting the assistance or influence of the federal government in some way in the wider extension and firmer establishment of his system of instruction, and that city remained his residence and the center of his operations until his death.
The following extracts from one of his letters to Mr. Seton, dated Washington, Nov. 10, 1850, will indicate the character of the means by which Mr. Holbrook was proposing to accomplish his objects. He suggests,
First, A proposal for the New York schools, public and ward, to direct their attention for one month to the simple definite object of preparing an offering, a free gift, for the president of the United States, for each member of his cabinet, and for every member of congress, making in the whole about three hundred of their free-will offerings.
Second, That these offerings contain, in each case, a map of the State of the recipient, and a map of Palestine; if practicable, a sketch of some geological form
ation, showing some feature in the earth's structure, or some species of organic remains ; also something agricultural, some domestic animal, perhaps a particular breed of sheep, cow, or horse, some plant of the farm or garden, or some implement used by the farmer. Something of school architecture, either in buildings or fixtures, would have a specific aim and tendency. Some written extract from ancient saints or modern statesmen, or some poetry of religious or patriotic tendency. Something from Moses, David, Isaiah, St. Paul, or, still better, from Him whom St. Paul preached; from Washington, Adams, Clay, Webster, or any other preferred.
You know I am partial to drawing and writing. “Drawing before Writing," given in a sheet prepared for the specific object of a "little leaven," is already powerfully operative in leavening the whole lump. As these have been done beautifully in primaries as well as the upper schools, and done rapidly, large numbers of them might be produced. * * In addition to several of these simple specimens of “ Drawing and Writing," in the packages to the members, millions would readily be distributed by them, scattered broadcast over the whole land, certain to prove good seed in good soil.
The third proposal is, to have them for New Year's Gifts, coming from the grand central wheel in the great commercial, to be cast into the other grand central wheel in the great political, metropolis.
My fourth suggestion is, by these and other stimulants and aids, to have as large and rich an exhibition at the next New York “Scholars' Fair" as possible, with the special design, publicly expressed, of having that followed by a similar exhibition in Philadelphia, then in Baltimore, then Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charleston, New Orleans, &c., &c; taking a national circuit, which, once well started, will stop when the Hudson and Amazon stop.
Another letter to Mr. Seton, written the next day, explains the results hoped for from the means thus enumerated, and well illustrates at once the strong practical tendencies, the enthusiastic hopefulness, and the vagueness in tracing lines of future action, which were prominent characteristics in Mr. Holbrook's character and labors.
I will now give you several results, certain, as it seems to me, to arise from the elements named, if used as suggested.
First, An immediate and substantive benefit to the pupils aiding in the “ New Year's Gifts” proposed. Hardly a principle in young beings, as the element and foundation of future life, will be left in disuse. Every lesson presented to them, on whatever subject, will be more thoroughly because more practically, Jearned. In reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithmetic, geography, &c., &c., there will be stronger and higher mental action, because founded on a moral basis.
Second, Such a proposal or such exercises in New York would rouse the schools here, and in many other places, to similar action, eventually producing a returning influence upon the schools of New York.
Third, It would directly enlist the “ powers that be" here, from the president down, separately and jointly, in this common cause ; leading all government functionaries, both state and national, to follow their example.
Fourth, A pacific tendency with the North and South ; as in it there is no North and South. If the occasion should be somewhat imposing, it would have a very decided, possibly a controlling, influence in settling the disturbed and convulsed waters now causing our country to reel to and fro.
Fifth, “ Cent an ounce postage," making the mail a common carrier." The immediate call for such a system, by materials in actual possession of the lawmakers, would almost of course be met by the necessities of the case. If every member of congress could receive at the same time a package of juvenile products for his own particular use, and be requested to distribute others widely among his constituents, the necessity of the case, and the popularity of the measure, acting through the country generally, would infallibly, I think, lead to a liberal post-office policy. Every one must see this one point to be of very great consideration to our whole country, in all its interests—political, commercial, scientific, social, moral, and religious.
Sixth, A national system of " Industrial Exhibitions,” of the traveling order, bringing each exhibition to aid and be aided by all the rest. The specimens distributed as proposed over the country, presented in direct connection with this plan as one of the objects, would inevitably bring specimens from various places and in increased numbers to the next Scholars' Fair in the spring. Specimens thus sent in would at once furnish materials for commencing a traveling system of exhibitions, and create a deep interest in them. If, for example, the specimens should be sent from Philadelphia, those specimens in one way or another would be so much stock in business, and be certain to create a desire to have it reciprocated in that place. So it would be especially here, and, as one of its results, produce flesh and blood upon the “ dry bones" here under the name of trustees. *
Seventh, A call for district professors for the whole country, to hold meetings once a month, or oftener, consisting perhaps of delegations from the schools in a given town or district. To illustrate : suppose county superintendents of schools be elevated into county scientific professors, to give monthly lectures in each town of the county, under an arrangement for all the schools to participate, not so much in hearing lectures as in preparing materials for instructing each other, under the occasion of the lectures and the aid of the lecturers.
Eighth, Giving an occasion for the “Lot Plan''* as the foundation of self-instruction, raising up professors to carry it out through the country. I am settled in the belief that such professors can never be prepared in our colleges. (Here Mr. Holbrook refers to some geological lectures lately heard by him, and contrasts the common method and his own by saying :) My geology consists of facts, actual things, about the earth. Theirs is speculation about the mode of the earth's existence. Mine tells me what mountains are. Theirs tells, or speculates, whether they were formed this way or that. Mine gives certain and interesting knowledge to young minds. Theirs, to a great extent, out of the reach of all minds, their own included.
But no definite and efficient co-operation seems to have been secured from any official source; and, during the years 1852 and 1853, his correspondence shows that occasional fits of despondency, doubtless in some measure the result of excessive mental labor, were annoying him; and he began to speak of leaving his work to be carried on by other hands. In May, 1854, he made a journey to Lynchburg, Va., on business connected with his enterprise; and, having walked out alone one morning, was evidently collecting minerals, as he had been busily engaged in doing for some weeks, from the face of a precipitous cliff, overhanging a deep creek, and lost his footing, fell into the water, and was drowned. He was not missed for a day or two, being supposed to be visiting in the vicinity; but, on searching for him, his body was found, on the 24th of May, floating in the water. He was interred in the burying-ground of one of the churches at Lynchburg, and his funeral was attended by a large number of persons, who had already become interested in his enthusiastic devotion to science and education.
The American Institute of Instruction, at its annual session, at Providence, R. I., in August following, on the announcement by Mr. Gideon F. Thayer, of Boston, of the fact and circumstances of his death, passed the following resolutions.
Whercas, Since the last annual meeting of the Institute, our associate and esteemed friend, Josiah Holbrook, has been removed by death from the sceve of his early labors; therefore,
This seems to have been a modification of Mr. Holbrook's scheme of a Lyceum Village.
Resolved, That, as lovers of science, of human progress, and of man, we, the members of the American Institute of Instruction, lament the loss, to ourselves and to the world, of Josiah Holbrook, one of the original members of the Institute.
Resolved, That in the example of Mr. Holbrook the young teacher is taught that energy, devotion to duty, and perseverance will accomplish every reasonable object at which the mind may aim; that a resolute will, and fixedness of purpose to one end, ever secure eventual success.
Resolved, That our whole community owes a debt of lasting gratitude to the deceased, as having been the father of the system of Lyceums, by which a taste for science has been excited, and the young of our cities and villages have been allured from frivolous if not hurtful pleasure, and instructed in subjects which enlarge, elevate, and improve the mind and heart.
Resolved, That, as teachers and friends of common school education, we hold in grateful remembrance the life and labors of Josiah Holbrook, who was among the first to introduce into our schools the use of apparatus for the illustration of Science, and to introduce and recommend the collection of geological specimens, to excite in the young an interest in the formation of the material world.
Resolved, That we sincerely sympathize with the bereaved family of the deceased in their affliction, and trust that the remembrance of his useful life, and beneficent efforts for the universal improvement of man, will abide with them, to assuage their grief.
Resolved, That these resolutions be entered on the records of the Institute, and that a copy of them, signed by the president and recording secretary, be transmitted to the family of the deceased.
Remarks in support of the resolutions were made by Messrs. Greenleaf, of Bradford ; A. Greenleaf, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; and Z. Richards, of Washington, D. C., after which the resolutions were adopted unanimously.
While thus tracing a brief outline of the main facts of Mr. Holbrook's life, we have not attempted to give any extended statement or criticism of his views or purposes, nor of the system of instrumentalities by which he sought to realize them. We need not enter into the question of his merits in respect to the origination of the various educational reforms of the last quarter of a century. None can deny him the merit of having been a most faithful and efficient laborer in promoting many of the most important of them. A view of these will be found in the following appreciative sketch, by his early friend, Prof. Wm. Russell, which we gladly insert, at the risk of some unimportant repetitions.
RECOLLECTIONS OF JOSIAH HOLBROOK.
Among those friends of education who took an active part in endeavors for the improvement of schools, during the second quarter of the present century, none labored more strenuously or devotedly than Josiah Holbrook. Nor was he less active in the sphere of benevolent exertion for the diffusion of useful knowledge in scientific forms among adults, engaged in the various pursuits of lite, and particularly those occupied in farming.
In both these spheres, his truly disinterested and philanthropic spirit, impelled hy a zeal which habitually rose to enthusiasm, aimed at nothing short of an entire revolution in the forms and aspect of education in our schools of every grade, by introducing in them all, as the principal means of mental discipline and development, the study of natural objects, and of the common phenomena and processes of Nature, in the various departments of her great " kingdom." A large share of his attention was bestowed on ingenious contrivances, also, by which the different departments of physical and mathematical science might be successfully illustrated. As a philanthropic reformer of society, he took a deep interest in the welfare of the laboring classes, and occupied much of his time in devising measures for securing to them the benefits derived from the pursuit of knowledge in the forms of science and of art, connected with the habitual occupations of individuals and communities. In these endeavors the greater part of his life was passed; and his lamented death was caused by his zeal in such pursuits.
As an active and efficient friend of education, aiming at results strictly practical and reformatory, Mr. Holbrook devoted himself, with great earnestness, to several prominent points of great importance, in his view, to the improvement of schools. One of these primary objects of attention was the introduction of the study of botany, in simple forms, adapted to the capacities and wants of young children. When visiting schools for this purpose, his method was to take the whole school and the teacher into the nearest field, and set all hands to work, gathering, for inspection, as many different forms of leaves as could be found. These were carefully examined and compared, their resemblances and differences closely observed and minutely discussed, in a brief oral field-lecture, consisting of conversational questions and answers between the instructor and his pupils. On returning to the school-room, the children were directed to place their gathered treasures of leaves, for preservation, in their old writing-books; each of which was thenceforward to wear the dignified name of " folium," or leaf-book. A subsequent employment for rainy days and spare hours was the drawing, on the blackboard or on the slate, the simple, elementary geometrical forms which lay at the basis of the different shapes of the leaves. This last exercise was performed under the direction of the instructor, with the aid of a little manual of geometry, adapted to juvenile pupils, and, in the case of more advanced classes, by reference to a set of geometrical solids, also prepared for the express purpose.
In this truly natural method of instruction, founded on a philosophical appeal to the constitutional tendencies of thought, and feeling, and action in childhood, there was a most successful exercise and development, and a judicious and skillful training, of two prominent faculties of the young mind--observation and imitation. The physical and moral effect, too, of the inspiring change from the confinement of the school-room to the sunlight and fresh open-air, together with the invigorating bodily activity attending the field-exercise, and, again, the alternation to the quiet seclusion and thoughtful application within doors, all tended to produce the happiest effects, not only for the passing hour, but for the tendencies and habits of life.
Here, moreover, was exemplified the true economy of teaching. Recess-time was rendered a brief season of healthful recreation; conducive, also, to genuine enjoyment and mental progress. Botany was so introduced as to lead to the practice of drawing, and drawing to the study of elementary geometry, while the arrangement of the leaf-book was, at the same time, giving a silent but most effectual lesson of order and neatness in habit, and thus laying the foundation for the subsequent philosophical discipline of classification. Under such training, which combines so many subsidiary exercises in but one apparent process of culture, the pupil is advanced and developed in his natural unity of life, heart, mind, and will, and cordially co-operates in his own education.