« PreviousContinue »
iny pupils, a little fellow about ten years old, was unusually dull. Soon it was his father's turn to board the teacher. While there, I learned that, before the boy went to school, he knew nearly all liis letters, but that he had now forgotten them. The teacher's neglect then had caused his dullness. I took him in hand immediately.
“Do you see that letter? What does it look like?' "Like a hoop.'
Well, it is a hoop, but we call it “0." What does this letter look like ??
Why, it's just like a saw-buck.'
Well, it is a saw-buck, but we call it “X”). “I then pointed to 'B,' and called it an ox-shoe; so with others, until, in three-quarters of an hour, his knowledge of the alphabet had returned, and each letter wore a familiar face. At length I called his attention to the two letters, Oʻ and ·X,' and asked him what they spelled. Of course he did not know; but, by pointing out the oxen then feeding in the door-yard, I helped hiin. In this way I gained his attention. Learning was not a task but an amusement, and before bedtime the dull child was as bright as need be. From that night I had no difficulty. The boy is now a worthy man, as clever as any of his neighbors, all owing, no doubt, to that evening's work."
Object-teaching, or illustration from every-day life, is the way to reach the youthful mind, which is incapable of comprehending abstractions. To employ this method properly, careful preparation must be made. The lack of this causes many teachers to complain of dullness in their pupils; a complaint they should never utter, remembering the proverb, “Bad workmen only complain of their tools."--Educational Monthly.
APPEALS.-The number of appeal cases decided since the date of my last report is thirteen. This is a less number than during any previous year since the establishment of our school system. The number has diminished, year by year, since the office of County Superintendent was created.--State Superintendent's Report.
The subject of compulsory attendance at school was brought to the attention of the last legislature by the Assembly Committee on Education. No definite action was, however, recommended by the committee. The “truants" and "absentees" found in our cities and villages is well calculated to awaken interest, for, there is a conviction in the public mind, that it is from these two classes, that our criminals are to come; and the fearful increase of crime during the past few years, calls imperatively for such effort, as society can put forth for its own protection.
No intelligent man will deny that the duty of the parent to provide food and clothing for his child's body is one from which he should not be allowed to escape, but no person will assert that the duty of providing knowledge for the child's mind is less imperative. Starving a child's body is execrated, but starving his soul is permitted. But the consequences to society are far more dangerous in the one case than in the other. An ignorant boy, with uncontrolled passions, indolent habits and hardened heart is certain to become the enemy of society, and there is no duty plainer than that which self-preservation points out. Individual rights must be respected, but individual wrongs can claim no such immunity.
In establishing Free Schools and supporting them by taxation, we pledge society to the use of all the means necessary to render these schools efficient, and this taxation beneficent. To build school houses, and to hire teachers by public tax, and then to leave these school houses unoccupied and these teachers without work, is sheer mockery. The state assumed an obligation to secure the attendance of the children at school, when it decided to compel each citizen to pay a part of his property to support these schools. The State justifies its action on the ground that education is a public interest, but this public interest is obligatory upon every individual, hence, if the individual neglects his duty, or if its performance is impossible, society should lend its aid. To guard society against the effects of ignorance is no less a duty than to prevent disease or to enforce the usual sanitary regulations.
Ex-Governor Boutwell, of Massachusetts, has well said: "The only rule on which taxes can be levied justly is that the object sought is of public necessity or manifest public convenience. I
quite often happens that men of our own generation are insensible or indifferent to the true relation of the citizen to the cause of education. Some seem to imagine that their interest in schools, and of course their moral obligation to support them ceases with the education of their own children. This is a great error. The public has no righti to levy a tax for the education of any particular child, or family of children; but its right of taxation commences when the education or plan of education is universal, and ceases whenever the plan is limited, or the operations of the system are circumscribed. No man can be taxed properly because he has children of his own' to educate ; vthis may
be a reason with some for cheerful payment, but it has in itself no element of a just principle. When, however, the people decide that education is a matter of public concern, then taxation for its promotion rests upon the same foundation as the most important departments of government. As parents, we have a special interest in our children; as citizens, it is this, that they may be honest, industrious and effective in their labors. This interest we have in all child
But if it is a duty to provide schools for all, it is a duty to see that all are educated. The power to compel attendance, inheres in society if the power of taxation does. But it is not always wise for society to exercise a power because it possesses it. Un. der a government of democratic forms the sanction of public feeling is essential to the enforcement of law. Interference with individual rights is never justified except by the demands of the public good. A law requiring the regular attendence of all children at school, and enforced by penalties, would be repugnant to the feelings of the people, and is perhaps not yet demanded by the public good, but some legislation, authorizing cities and incorporated villages to prevent truancy and absenteeism from school, would, it is believed, be acceptable to the citizens of the State. The Legislature of Massachusetts, in 1862, passed an act, entitled " An act concerning truant children and absentees from school," which provides as follows:
"SECTION 1. Each city and town shall make all needful provis ions and arrangements, concerning habitual truants, and also concerning children wandering about in the streets, or public places of any city or town, having no lawful occupation or business, not
attending school, and growing ap in ignorance, between the ages of seven and sixteen years ; and shall also make all such by-laws respecting such children as shall be deemed most conducive to their welfare and the good order of such city or town; and there shall be annexed to such by-laws, suitable penalties, not exceeding twenty dollars for any one breach.
" SECTION 2. Any minor convicted of being an habitual truant, or any child convicted of wandering about in the streets or public places of any city or town, having no lawful occupation or business, not attending school, and growing up in ignorance, between the ages of seven and sixteen years, may, at the discretion of the justice or court having jurisdiction of the case, instead of the fine mentioned in the first section, be committed to any such institution of instruction, house of reformation, or guitable situation provided for the purpose, under the authority of the first section, for such time, not exceeding two years, as such justice or court may determine."
Special policemen or “ truant officers' are appointed, to whom habitual: truants or absentees from school are reported, and whose duty it is to investigate such cases, and if need be to bring the of fenders before the police court.
The City Superintendent of the Boston City Schools, in a late report says, “We have four truant officers appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Aldermen, who devote their whole time to the business of aiding teachers in suppressing the evil of truancy, and in securing the attendance of absentees from school. The services of those officers have contributed in no gmall degree? to extend the benefit of education to a large class of children who would otherwise have been deprived of its blessings. Indeed, the law which provides for the appointment of truant officers, and make children not attending any school, or without any regular or lawfut occupation, or growing up in ignorance, between the ages of five and sixteen years, liable to punishment, is now a permanent and indispensable element of our system of public education.
Truant laws have been enacted and truant officers appointed in: Chelsea, Lawrence, South Danvers, Newton, Dedham and other towns of Massachusetts, and the testimony in regard to their practical operation is uniformly favorable.-From State Superintendente Report.
The Rev. Doctor Nott.
The Rev. Dr. ELIPITALET Nort, whose death occurred on the morning of January 29, was the veteran among American divines. He had nearly reached the end of his ninety-third year when he died. His life was more than coeval with that of the republic.Born in the midst of the exciting events which heralded our first Revolution, he lived to see the close of its second-a revolution more momentous than that of '76.
Dr. Nott was born June 25, 1773. For almost two-thirds of a century he held the position in which he died—the Presidency of Union College. He was born of English ancestry. His father, a merchant, had been unfortunate in business, and was unable to give his son the advantages which at an earlier time he might have done. His mother, a woman of fine culture, exercised a great influence over his first intellectual training, and her discipline created in him an ardent desire to pursue his studies to the utmost practicable extent. While still a boy his brother, the Rev. Samuel Nott, of Franklin, Connecticut, adopted him as a member of his own family, and taught him the elements of Greek and Latin. In his twentieth year he entered Brown University, and, after being connected with that institution for the brief period of six weeks, graduated with the honor of the first degree in the arts.
In his twenty-fourth year he was licensed to preach. In 1798, one year later, he accepted a call from the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, where his ministry was very popular, and in 'every way a memorable success. His celebrated sermon, in 1804, on the death of Hamilton, who was a personal friend of the young clergyman, has long ranked among the best specimens of pulpit eloquence in this country,
The same year in which this sermon was delivered, and while Nott was only thirty-one years of age, he was invited to assume the Presidency of Union College, an institution which had had a corporated existence for less than a decade, and was yet struggling to maintain itself. Dr. Jonathan Edwards had been the second President; Dr. Nott was the fourth. Up to this time the whole number of graduates for nine years had been only 63. The Col. lege had no library or philosophical apparatus, and was embarrassed with debt. "Some forty students," Dr. Nott himself says in an