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could commence very soon with “pieces.” They would also need a quarter in Italian to aid them in the execution of the splendid opera music to which they aspired.
Was dancing taught at the Female Collegiate Institute? If not, they must go into the city twice a week to continue their lessons, as they must not give up, even for a few weeks, so important a part of their education. Certain other matters of dress and etiquette he hoped the lady-principal of the Institute would attend to with great care, as the young ladies were now finishing their education, preparatory to admission into the first society!
Now, wiser men than Farmer Jones have a similar leaning to the solid branches for their sons and daughters, and a similar dislike for everything that smacks of the superficial or artificial. And wiser men than the Honorable John Stubbs have been seduced into the notion that a daughter's education was mainly serviceable as it should enable her to make a fair show in the flesh!
How much better the royal mean which the king of Israel struck, when he prayed that his daughters might be as corner stones — polished after the similitude of a palace; combining in their persons and characters the strength of polished marble, and its beauty as well! The education of our children in either direction, without due regard to the other, must produce distortion and deformity. Let us, then, endeavor to secure for them an education which shall combine, so far as possible, both the solid and the ornamental. While we seek to lay the substantial foundation, let us not fear to erect the graceful superstructure. Let the broad and generous education which we advocate, include, along with the best intellectual development, whatever may be attainable of æsthetic culture. One is but the appropriate complement, the befitting counterpart, of the other.
I find this tendency to extreme opinions and practice existing in regard to the number of studies which pupils may pursue with profit in the same term. I frequently find children in the common schools, and even young men in the academy, attempting recitations in five or six branches, higher or lower, in the same day. This is sometimes done from a kind of supposed necessity; sometimes from the notion that it affords to the scholar an agreeable variety; and sometimes from the fancy which a boy may have, or his parents for him, that he would thus seem to be doing a large stroke of business! Far less frequently, we find scholars who wish to pursue but a single branch of study in one term. It is a favorite study, perhaps, or he may imagine that his progress will be more rapid if his attention is devoted exclusively to one branch. Admitting that either of these extremes may be adopted properly, in some unusual circum
stances, it is hardly necessary to remind intelligent persons, that, as a general principle, the true course lies between. Enough of variety to relieve the student, and not distract his attention, should be secured. Two or three branches, requiring any considerable study, are as many as ordinary pupils can pursue with profit in the same term. Some others may come in as occasional or incidental exercises, without damage. This matter would, without doubt, become sufficiently well regulated, if it could be left in the hands of judicious teachers. But many parents and children run constantly into the extreme of too many studies at one time. Better, by far, have longer and more thorough lessons in a smaller number of branches.
But the subject has another aspect. Shall the children devote the whole period of their education, longer or shorter, to a few branches or to many ? In regard to the fundamental branches, there is less opportunity for a division of opinion. But as they pass to the higher branches, the question becomes more serious. For example, if they have two years for the study of the natural sciences, shall they attempt to survey all the departments of nature, or limit their attention to a few? If they have two years of solid time for the study of languages, shall they divide it between two or more different tongues, or devote it all to one? If they have two or three
years for æsthetic training, shall they divide their time between drawing and painting, music and the higher arts of composition, or shall they ascertain their predominant aptitudes, and pursue some one of them, neglecting the other? It is said to be a peculiar trait of the Yankee mind, to desire to know a little of everything. Hence our danger of running into an extreme multiplicity of studies. The other extreme is seen in some students of special departments. They make some one language, or science, or department of a science even, a life study. It is very true that the position and duties of the ordinary American citizen seem to require for him a wide range of general knowledge. At the same time, I doubt not that a higher discipline and a more effective knowledge would come from the more thorough pursuit of a smaller number of branches. Our education tends to the shallow and incomplete. We should encourage, then, a more exhaustive investigation of fewer departments of knowledge. No man, nor woman, nor child, can learn everything; and if thorough attainments, rather than multifarious smatterings, could once become the rule and the fashion, this kind of knowledge would be far more gratifying to its possessor and more useful to the world than the wider range of shallow beginnings. This view of the subject applies, of course, more especially to the higher schools and to private study.
is the lower public
There is still another aspect of the general subject, applicable to the lower and to the higher schools alike. Supposing that our public schools, as an ordinary fact, have undertaken as many branches of instruction as they can profitably manage, and supposing that the kinds of instruction introduced into these schools are very nearly what the maturest wisdom would select, I am fully convinced that the attention given to some of them is extremely disproportioned to their value, as compared with others which receive an extreme neglect.
Compare, for example, the study of language and the study of numbers as found in the schools. Every child learns something of reading and spelling. Most of the girls learn something of grammar; and a smaller number of the boys learn less of it theoretical or practical. To composition, the most effectual means of learning the language, very little attention is given by either. Arithmetic, on the other hand, engrosses the attention of all, from the beginning of the course, at six or eight years, to the end of it. In a great majority of the schools it is only written arithmetic; arithmetic by rule and by rote. The high ambition of each seems to be, to “ do the sums,” — to “cipher through,” first the “Common School,” and then the “ National;” and no young man thinks his arithmetical character fully established until he can “get the answers” to all Father Greenleaf's