« AnteriorContinua »
cise is “allowed.” There is no mistake and-a
- a quarter of study, and one soliabout this statement; I wish there were. tary hour for exercise, not counting those I have not imagined it; who could have inexplicable “ short intervals which candone so, short of Milton and Dante, who not easily be explained !” were versed in the exploration of kin- You will be pleased to hear that I dred regions of torment? But as I can- have had an opportunity of witnessing not expect the general public to believe the brilliant results of Mrs. Destructive's the statement, even if you do,--and as this system, in the case of my charming little letter, like my previous one, may acciden- neighbor, Fanny Carroll. She has lately tally find its way into print,- and as I returned from a stay of one year under cannot refer to those who have person- that fashionable roof. In most respects, ally attended the school, since they prob- I was assured, the results of the school ably die off too fast to be summoned as were all that could be desired; the mothwitnesses,— I will come down to a rather er informed me, with delight, that the milder statement, and see if you will be- child now spoke French like an angel lieve that.
from Paris, and handled her silver fork Shall we send her, then, to the famous like a seraph from the skies. You may New York school of Mrs. Destructive ? well
that I hastened to call upon This is recently noticed as follows in the her; for the gay little creature was always “ Household Journal”:- “Of this most a great pet of mine, and I always quoted admirable school, for faithful and well- her with delight, as a proof that bloom bred system of education, we have long and strength were not monopolized by intended to speak approvingly; but in the English girls. In the parlor I found the following extract from the circular the mother closeted with the family physitruth is more expressively given :- From cian. Soon, Fanny, aged sixteen, glided September to April the time of rising is in,- a pale spectre, exquisite in costume, a quarter before seven o'clock, and from unexceptionable in manners, looking in April to July half an hour earlier; then all respects like an exceedingly used-up breakfast; after which, from eight to nine belle of five-and-twenty. “What were o'clock, study,—the school opening at nine you just saying that some of my Fanny's o'clock, with reading the Scriptures and symptoms were, Doctor?” asked the lanprayer. From nine until half past twelve, guid mother, as if longing for a second the recitations succeed one another, with taste of some dainty morsel. The couroccasional short intervals of rest. From teous physician dropped them into her half past twelve to one, recreation and eager palm, like sugar-plums, one by one: lunch. From one to three o'clock, at “Vertigo, headache, neuralgic pains, and which hour the school closes, the studies general debility.” The mother sighed are exclusively in the French language. once genteelly at me, and then again, ... From three to four o'clock in the quite sincerely, to herself ;- but I never winter, but later in the summer, exercise yet saw an habitual invalid who did not in the open air. There are also oppor- seem to take a secret satisfaction in findtunities for exercise several times in the ing her child to be a chip of the old block, day, at short intervals, which cannot easi- though block and chip were both wofully ly be explained. From a quarter past decayed. However, nothing is now said four to five o'clock, study; then dinner, of Miss Carroll's returning to school; and and soon after, tea. From seven to nine, the other day I actually saw her dashing two hours of study; immediately after through the lane on the family pony, with which all retire for the night, and lights a tinge of the old brightness in her cheeks. in the sleeping apartments must be ex- I ventured to inquire of her, soon after, tinguished at half past nine.'” You have if she had finished her education ; and summed up the total already, Dolorosus; she replied, with a slight tinge of satire, I see it on your lips ;-nine-hours- that she studied regularly every day, at
various “short intervals, which could not before daylight (in winter). -- a thing easily be explained."
most dangerous to eyesight, as multitudes Five hours a day the safe limit for have found to their cost. Then from eight study, Dolorosus, and these terrible schools to half past two, from four to half past quietly put into their programmes nine, five, from seven to nine, — with one or ten, eleven hours; and the deluded par- two slight recesses. Ten hours and three ents think they have out-manæuvred the quarters daily, Dolorosus ! as surely as laws of Nature, and made a better bar- you are a living sinner, and as surely as gain with Time. But these are private, the Board of Education who framed that exclusive schools, you may say, for espe- programme were sinners likewise. I becially favored children. We cannot afford lieve that some Normal Schools have to have most of the rising generation learned more moderation now; but I murdered so expensively; and in our know also what forlorn wrecks of wompublic schools, at least, one thinks there anhood have been strewed along their may be some relaxation of this tremen- melancholy history, thus far; and at what dous strain. Besides, physiological re- incalculable cost their successes have been formers had the making of our public purchased. system. “A man without high health,” But it is premature to contemplate this said Horace Mann, “is as much at war form of martyrdom for Angelina, who has with Nature as a guilty soul is at war to run the gantlet of our common schools with the spirit of God.” Look first at and high schools first. Let us consider our Normal Schools, therefore, and see her prospects in these, carrying with us how finely their theory, also, presents that blessed maxim, five hours' study a this same lofty view.
—“Nature loves the number five,” “ Those who have had much to do with as Emerson judiciously remarks,- for our students, especially with the female por- ægis against the wiles of schoolmasters. tion," said a Normal School Report a few The year 1854 is memorable for a years since, “ well know the sort of mar- bomb-shell then thrown into the midst tyr-spirit that extensively prevails,— how of the triumphant school-system of Bosready they often are to sacrifice every
ton, in the form of a solemn protest by thing for the sake of a good lesson,— how the city physician against the ruinous false are their notions of true economy in manner in which the children were overmental labor, ..... sacrificing their worked. Fact, feeling, and physiology physical natures most unscrupulously to were brought to bear, with much tact and their intellectual. Indeed, so strong had energy, and the one special point of asthis passion for abuse become [in this sault was the practice of imposing out-ofinstitution], that no study of the laws of school studies, beyond the habitual six the physical organization, no warning, hours of session. A committee of inquiry no painful experiences of their own or was appointed. They interrogated the of their associates, were sufficient to over- grammar-school teachers. The innocent come their readiness for self-sacrifice.” and unsuspecting teachers were amazed And it appears, that, in consequence of at the suggestion of any excess. Most of this state of things, circulars were sent to them promptly replied, in writing, that all boarding houses in the village, lay- they had never heard of any complaints ing down stringent rules to prevent the on this subject from parents or guardians"; young ladies from exceeding the pre- that “most of the masters were watchful scribed amount of study.
upon the matter”; that “none of them Now turn from theory to practice. pressed out-of-school studies”; while “ the What was this “ prescribed amount of general opinion appeared to be, that a study” which these desperate young fe- moderate amount of out-of-school study males persisted in exceeding in this mod- was both necessary for the prescribed el school ? It began with an hour's study course of study and wholesome in its inVOL. IV.
fluence on character and habits.” They ly because they represent a contest which suggested that “commonly the ill health is inevitable in every large town in the that might exist arose from other causes United States where the public-school than excessive study”; one attributed it system is sufficiently perfected to be danto the use of confectionery, another to gerous. It is simply the question, whether fashionable parties, another to the prac- children can bear more brain-work than tice of “chewing pitch,"— anything, ev- men can. Physiology, speaking through erything, rather than admit that Ameri- my humble voice, (the personification can children of fourteen could possibly may remind you of the days when men be damaged by working only two hours a began poems with “ Inoculation, heavenday more than Walter Scott.
ly maid !") shrieks loudly for five hours However, the committee thought dif- as the utmost limit, and four hours as far ferently. At any rate, they fancied that more reasonable than six. But even the they bad more immediate control over comparatively moderate “ friends of eduthe school-hours than they could exer- cation” still claim the contrary. Mr. cise over the propensity of young girls Bishop, the worthy Superintendent of for confectionery, or over the impropri- Schools in Boston, says, (Report, 1855,) eties of small boys who, yet innmature for " The time daily allotted to studies may tobacco, touched pitch and were defiled. very properly be extended to seven hours So by their influence was passed that a day for young persons over fifteen years immortal Section 7 of Chapter V. of the of age”; and the Secretary of the MassaSchool Regulations, - the Magna Charta chusetts Board of Education, in his reof childish liberty, so far as it goes, and cent volume, seems to think it a great the only safeguard which renders it pru
concession to limit the period for young. dent to rear a family within the limits of er pupils to six. Boston :
And we must not forget, that, frame “In assigning lessons to boys to be regulations as we may, the tendency will studied out of school-hours, the instruct- always be to overrun them. In the reors shall not assign a longer lesson than a port of the Boston sub-committee to which boy of good capacity can acquire by an I have referred, it was expressly admitted hour's study; but no out-of-school lessons that the restrictions recommended * would shall be assigned to girls, nor shall the not alone remedy the evil, or do much lessons to be studied in school be so long toward it; there would still be much, and as to require a scholar of ordinary capaci- with the ambitious too much, studying ty to study out of school in order to learn out of school.” They ascribed the real them."
difficulty “to the general arrangements It appears that since that epoch this of our schools, and to the strong pressure rule has “ generally” been observed from various causes urging the pupils to “ though many of the teachers would intense application and the masters to prefer a different practice.” " The rule encourage it," and said that this could is regarded by some as an uncomfortable only be met by some general changes inrestriction, which without adequate rea- troduced by general legislation.” Some son (!) retards the progress of pupils." few of the masters had previously admit“A majority of our teachers would con- ted the same thing : “ The pressure from sider the permission to assign lessons for without, the expectations of the commitstudy at home to be a decided advantage tee, the wishes of the parents, the ambiand privilege.” So say the later reports tion of the pupils, and an exacting public of the committee.
sentiment, do tend to stimulate many to Fortunately for Angelina and the jun- excessive application, both in and out of ior members of the house of Dolorosus, school.” you are not now directly dependent upon This admits the same fact, in a differBoston regulations. I mention them on- ent form. If these children have half their vitality taken out of them for life check, for the eyes of the editors are by premature and excessive brain-work, upon them, and the municipal glory is it makes no difference whether it is done at stake: every one of these, from highin the form of direct taxation or of indi- est to lowest, has his appointed place in rect, — whether they are compelled to it the tread-mill and must keep step with by authority or allured into it by excite- the rest; and only once a year, at the ment and emulation. If a horse breaks summer vacation, the vast machine stops, a blood-vessel by running too hard, it is and the poor remains of childish brain no matter whether he was goaded by and body are taken out and handed to whip and spur, or ingeniously coaxed by anxious parents (like you, Dolorosus) : the Hibernian method of a lock of hay " Ilere, most worthy tax-payer, is the tied six inches before his nose. The dilapidated residue of your beloved Anmethod is nothing,- it is the pace which gelina ; take her to the sea-shore for a kills. Probably the fact is, that for every few weeks, and make the most of her." extra hour directly required by the teach- Do not you know that foreigners, comer, another is indirectly extorted in addi- ing from the contemplation of races less tion by the general stimulus of the school. precociously intellectual, see the danger The best scholars put on the added hour, we are in, if we do not? I was struck because they are the best,—and the in- by the sudden disappointment of an ferior scholars, because they are not the enthusiastic English teacher, (Mr. Calbest. In either case the excess is de throp,) who visited the New York schools structive in its tendency, and the only the other day and got a little behind the refuge for individuals is to be found in scenes. "If I wanted a stranger to bea combination of fortunate dulness with lieve that the Millennium was not far happy indifference to shame. But is it off,” he said, “ I would take him to some desirable, my friend, to construct our of those grand ward-schools in New York, school-system on such a basis that safety where able heals are trained by the and health shall be monopolized by the thousand. I spent four or five days in stupid and the shameless ?
doing little else than going through these Is this magnificent system of public in- truly wonderful schools. I staid more struction, the glory of the world, to turn than three hours in one of them, wonderout merely a vast machine for grinding ing at all I saw, admiring the stately ordown Young America, just as the system der, the unbroken discipline of the whole of middle-men, similarly organized, has arrangements, and the wonderful quickground down the Irish peasantry ? Look ness and intelligence of the scholars. at it! as now arranged, committees are That same evening I went to see a friend, responsible to the public, teachers to com- whose daughter, a child of thirteen, was mittees, pupils to teachers,- all pledged at one of these schools. I examized her, to extract a maximum crop from childish and found that the little girl could hoiu brains. Each is responsible to the au- her own with many of larger growth. thority next above him for a certain • Did she go to school to-day ?' asked I. amount, and must get it out of the victim No,' was the answer, she has not been next below him. Constant improvements for some time, as she was beginning to in machinery perfect and expedite the get quite a serious curvature of the spine; work; improved gauges and metres (in so now she goes regularly to a gymnastic the form of examinations) compute the doctor!'" comparative yield to a nicety, and allow I am sure that we have all had the no evasion. The child cannot spare an same experience. How exciting it was, hour, for he must keep up with the other last year, to be sure, to see Angelina at children; the teacher dares not relax, for the grammar-school examination, multihe must keep up with the other schools ; plying mentally 351,426 by 236,145, and the committees must only stimulate, not announcing the result in two minutes and thirteen seconds as 82,987,492,770! I child's dying, insane from sheer overremember how you stood trembling as work, and raving of algebra, I would she staggered under the monstrous load, have her come no nearer to the splenand how your cheek hung out the red dors of science than the man in the flag of parental exultation when she came French play, who brings away from school out safe. But when I looked at her col- only the general impression that two and orless visage, sharp features, and shiny two make five for a creditor and three consumptive skin, I groaned inwardly. for a debtor. It seemed as if that crop of figures, like De Quincey wrote a treatise on “Murthe innumerable forets of the whiteweed, der considered as one of the Fine Arts," now overspreading your paternal farm, and it is certainly the fine art which rewere exhausting the last vitality from a ceives most attention in our schools. “So shallow soil. What a pity it is that the far as the body is concerned," said HorDeity gave to these children of ours ace Mann of these institutions, “they bodies as well as brains! How it inter- provide for all the natural tendencies to feres with thorough instruction in the lan- physical ease and inactivity as carefully guages and the sciences! You remember as though paleness and languor, muscular the negro-trader in “ Uncle Tom,” who enervation and debility, were held to be sighs for a lot of negroes specially con- constituent elements in national beauty." structed for his convenience, with the With this denial of the body on one side, souls left out? Could not some of our with this tremendous stimulus of brain school-committees take measures to se- on the other, and with a delicate and nercure the companion set, possessing mere- vous national organization to begin with, ly the brains, and with the troublesome the result is inevitable. Boys hold out bodies conveniently omitted ?
better than girls, partly because they are The truth is, that we Americans, hav- not so docile in school, partly because ing overcome all other obstacles to the they are allowed to be more active out universal education of the people, have of it, and so have more recuperative thought to overcome even the limitations power. But who has not seen some deliimposed by the laws of Nature; and so cate girl, after five consecutive bours we were going triumphantly on, when spent over French and Latin and Algethe ruined health of our children sudden- bra, come home to swallow an indigestible ly brought us to a stand. Now we sud- dinner, and straightway settle down again denly discover, that, in the absence of to spend literally every waking hour out Inquisitions, and other unpleasant Old- of the twenty-four in study, save those World tortures, our school-houses have scanty meal-times--protracting the lataken their place. We have outgrown bor, it may be, far into the night, till the war, we think; and yet we have not out- weary eyes close unwillingly over the grown a form of contest which is undeni- slate or the lexicon, then to bed, to be ably more sanguinary, since one-half the vexed by troubled dreams, instead of becommunity actually die, under present ing wrapt in the sunny slumber of childarrangements, before they are old enough hood, — waking unrefreshed, to be reto see a battle-field,—that is, before the proached by parents and friends with age of eighteen. It is an actual fact, the nervous irritability which this detestthat, if you can only keep Angelina alive able routine has created ? up to that birthday, even if she be an For I aver that parents are more exignoramus, she will at least have accom- acting than even teachers. It is outraplished the feat of surviving half her con- geous to heap it all upon the pedagogues, temporaries. Can there be no Peace as if they were the only apostolical sucSociety to check this terrific carnage ? cessors of him whom Charles Lanıb laudDolorosus, rather than have a child of ed, “the much calumniated good King mine die, as I have recently heard of a Herod.” Indeed, teachers have no objec