Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

3. Lax discipline in a school saps the moral character of the pupil. It allows him to work merely as he pleases, and he never can reënforce his feeble will by regularity, punctuality, and systematic industry. He grows up in habits of whispering and other species of intermeddling with his fellow-pupils, neither doing what is reasonable himself nor allowing others to do it. Never having subdued himself he will never subdue the world of chaos, or any part of it as his life work, but will have to be subdued by external constraint on the part of his fellowmen.

4. Too strict discipline, on the other hand, undermines moral character by emphasizing too much the mechanical duties, and especially the phase of obedience to authority, and it leaves the pupil in a state of perennial minority. He does not assimilate the law of duty and make it his own. The law is not written on his heart, but is written on his lips only. He fears it but does not love it. The tyrant teacher produces hypocrisy and deceit in his pupils. All manner of fraud germinates in attempts to cover up short-comings from the eye of the teacher. Even where there is simple, implicit obedience instead of fraud and the like, there is no independence and strength of character developed.

5. The best help that one can give liis fellows is that which enables them to help themselves. The best school is that which makes the pupils able to teach themselves. The best instruction in morality makes the pupil a law unto himself.

Hence strictness, which is indispensable, must be tempered by such devices as cause the pupil to love, to obey the law for the law's sake.

III.

HIGH SCHOOLS.

By Hon. J. W. DICKINSON, Sec. Mass. BOARD OF EDUCATION.

In the Massachusetts System of Public Schools there are three distinct grades. These are distinguished from one another by the kinds of knowledge taught in them, and by the kinds of mental activity which the pursuit of the knowledge requires. The most elementary knowledge taught has for its objects, facts relating to the external world and the language by which the knowledge may be represented. The mental activity required to put the mind in possession of this knowledge is that which may be produced by the observing powers.

The school which limits its instruction to such knowledge and such exercises of the faculties, is the Primary school of our system. The acquisitions made in the primary schools should prepare the minds of the children with a sufficient knowledge of the qualities of things, and of language, and with sufficient mental strength to enable them to distinguish objects by means of their qualities. This last work joined to the cultivation of the acquisitive and conservative powers, is the peculiar work of the Intermediate schools. Intermediate instruction should cover the ground between the Primary and the High Schools.

The High School stands at the head of our system. In it the students are expected to use the elementary knowledge obtained in the schools below, as occasions for a scientific classification of all objects of thought. Here the causes of things are to be the constant object of inquiry, and reasons are to be given for all judgments that are formed and expressed. In language, general abstract terms are to be used in place of individual concrete names and general definitions are to be substituted for simple statements of facts. The High School courses of studies should be adapted to call into special activity the reflective powers of the mind — the powers that generalize and reason.

The Primary School calling the attention of its pupils to individual objects considered as individuals, and to their qualities considered as qualities of distinct individuals, leads the mind to its most elementary knowledge, and to the most elementary exercise of its faculties.

The Intermediate School, furnishing an opportunity for the comparison of objects with one another by means of their discovered resemblances and differences, and for the natural exercise of the representative as well as the presentative powers, makes use of the knowledge and power gained in the Primary School, and prepares the learner's mind for future scientific study.

The Iligh School receiving the learners who have had an experience in observing individual objects of thought, and comparing them with one another and directing these learners to collect the objects into classes, is able to teach what is universally true by calling into activity the powers that generalize and reason. These three grades of schools taken together form a complete whole, with the High School at the head of the system. To omit one of the grades of schools now included would leave the system in fragments and wanting in an essential part.

Origin of High Schools. The Grammar Schools of the Colonies were planned after a model found in the free Grammar Schools of England.

The royal schools, the prototypes of the colonies, were eatablished in the fifteenth century by the use of funds obtained from the confiscated property of the religious houses then broken up. These schools were partially free. In them the poor and the rich enjoyed the advantages of a most thorough study of the classic languages and the study of other branches of knowledge necessary for admission to the University.

The old Grammar School of England was transplanted in the Massachusetts Colony in 1647 by an act of the general court requiring every township containing one hundred families or householders to set up a Grammar School, whose master should be able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the University. To be fitted for the University was, among other acquirements, to be able to translate any classic author into good English; to speak and write true Latin in verse and prose, and be familiar with the grammatical forms of inflected words.

The term Grammar School, as used in modern times, has lost its ancient signification. It is no longer applied to a school in which the classic languages are the special objects of study, but rather to one holding a middle rank between the Primary and High School and confining its instruction to the English branches of learning.

In 1826 a law was passed in Massachusetts requiring the towns to provide free schools for all the children who may legally attend schools therein. The studies to be pnrsued in these schools were called the Common English branches of learning. It was also provided that a higher order of schools should be established in which elementary studies were to be pursued as sciences.

At this time. the soul of the old Classic Grammar School of 1647 passed, in a modified form, into the High School of the present day.

Right of the State to support High Schools. Some have denied the right of the state to compel the support of Secondary or High Schools by a general tax. The same persons admit the right to require the support of Elementary Schools because elementary education is necessary to the well-being of the state. These philosophers have never drawn a very definite line separating from all other knowledge and discipline, that which is necessary for the well-being of the state and of the individual, nor have they been able to tell just where the point is beyond which the state cannot rightfully go in educating its children for their places in a free and highly civilized commonwealth. The reason that no limit has been found is that none exists, except the one established by the ability the people have to pay the tax they impose on themselves for the support of the schools.

If we turn our attention to the true nature of education, and to the relations it holds to civil society and to its individual members, we shall see that the same reasons which urge the support of Primary Schools apply to all other grades with the same force. We shall then learn that the more complete the education of a people, the higher will be their civilization. The people of a free state are supposed to be their own governors. They make their own laws and render a voluntary obedience to them. If they govern themselves well, they must be guided in their acts by intelligence and virtue. Intelli

« AnteriorContinuar »