Indiana. General Assembly.

Documentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) online

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of its demands is attained and the end of its mission is reached.
The spirit thus evoked will not be laid by the magic wand of sel-
fishness, nor the incantations of ignorance. It is nothing less than
the incarnation of the spirit of the age, the embodiment of a pro-
gress, that will become more and more refulgent, till it extinguishes
in the brilliancy of its light the last vestige of darkness, and oblite-
rates the last trace of ignorance.

It is confidently believed that the time has fully come, and that
the necessities of the case imperatively demand the prompt estab-
lishment of such agencies, as will both improve present teachers,
not beyond the disposition and capacity of progress, and convert
the unwrought material into superior specimens of literary work-
manship, that will be a credit to the manufacturer, and prove a
valuable investment to the purchaser. The attention of the last
Legislature was briefly called to the subject of teacher's institutes
as an educational instrumentality, and its claims commended to
their favorable consideration. The lapse of two years has only
strengthened the conviction of the reality of all that was then
urged in their favor. Their relative position and successful mis-
sion in the educational code and experience of other States warrant
the belief that similar results would follow their introduction into
Indiana. Individual zeal and enterprise have given them a tempo-
rary existence in a few localities, demonstrating their capacity for
good, but the transfer of their moving spirits to other fields of
labor has numbered the institutes among the things that were and
are not. The State has hitherto extended no sympathy, nor lent
any pecuniary aid to extend and perpetuate their usefulness.

The Teacher's Institute and Normal school, in their purpose and
results, are essentially one and the same. Both aim at the im-
provement and elevation of those who are, or expect to be engaged



467

in the business of teaching. While their mission is identical in
character, it may also be cotemporaneous in its action. The work
of training existing teachers to higher attainments, quickening
their zeal, waking new enthusiasm, and prompting to correspond-
ing effort, may be carried on simultaneously with the enterprise of
converting the raw material into finished specimens of the pro-
fession. Similar in their nature, so also they must, to a great
extent, be cotemporaneous and parallel in their operation. Though
their historic antecedents in the older States may present a some-
what different result, yet the present experience of even those States
where they are accomplishing the highest purpose of their mission,
going hand in hand, clearly demonstrates the identity of their
character, and the wisdom of regarding them as one and the same
enterprise. The semblance of anything to the contrary is the result
of circumstances, rather than any inherent dissimilarity of purpose.
The suggestions of past experience and current observation con-
cur in urging the immediate incorporation of this educational
feature into our system. Have we not abundance of the raw
material susceptible of being wrought into the finest specimens of
artistic skill? Is there not also a large amount of unfinished
fabrics, that require to be put through some additional processes
before they are fit for the market, or could be advantageously
offered for sale? If home manufacture of material substance is
wise, economical and worthy to be fostered, then the same policy
in reference to our intellectual materials, and educational necessi-
ties, will be found to be equally sound, correct and imperative.
Let our own sons and daughters be trained to the noble work, the
high calling, the honorable, if not the remunerative mission of the
teacher. Their sympathies, associations and habits are favorable
antecedents, as well as reliable pledges, that they would not dis-
appoint any reasonable expectations. Were wise and efficient pro-
visions made for this professional culture, many of our finest minds
would be induced to enter the profession, and many, now the
merest apologies, would be compelled to leave it for their country's
welfare and their own peace. Our necessities demand that there
should be no unnecessary delay, no faint-hearted postponement of
the enterprise to some distant "good day coming," but prompt yet
prudent and efficient action. The following plan is submitted for
consideration. It is believed that it embodies a sufficient amount
of valuable experience, and results of careful observation of the
working of this kind of educational machinery elsewhere, to entitle
it to a candid examination and adoption, if, after a thorough scru-
tiny, it should not be found essentially defective. In the establish-
ment of Normal Schools for a State of our dimensions, present and
prospective population, it must not be forgotten that a metropoli-
tan establishment will not meet our wants, nor answer our expecta-
tions. To make the normal school feature an integral part of our
system, and imbed it in the sympathies of our teachers and the
hearts of the people, it must have flexibility enough to bring it in
1 U._34



468

contact with the masses, and its practical utility must be so obvi-
ous as to challenge notice and approval. Possessing these char-
acteristics it cannot fail of success. To give it such an embodi-
ment there must be at least four locations, with suitable buildings,
apparatus and libraries. When these are provided by corporations,
created for educational purposes, and a suitable Faculty of teachers
connected therewith, approved by the State Board of Education,
the State of Indiana will appropriate a suitable sum to pay the
salaries of said faculty for a definite number of years.

These Faculties shall perform a specific amount and kind of
service prescribed by the State Board, in general outline substan-
tially the following: teach sixteen weeks in the winter and twelve
in the summer, spend six weeks in the spring and six in the autumn
in conducting Teachers Institutes, of a week each, in the several
counties of their respective districts. This arrangement contem-
plates an appropriate union, a parallel operation and practical
combination of the Institute and Normal School. The wisdom
and economy of the plan will appear in its practical results. —
Teachers Institutes heretofore have had no connection with Nor-
mal Schools, being conducted by those temporarily employed for
the purpose, associated only for a few months, and the corps, once
dissolved, never re-united. Thus the experience acquired, the
acquaintance formed with school officers and friends of education,
the facility of imparting instruction, and the acquisition of profes-
sional knowledge have been lost, to no slight extent, to the cause
of education, merely by the withdrawal of their possessors from
active service. Under the operation of a distinct and independent
action of these co-ordinate enterprises, there has existed no special
sympathy between them, there has been no peculiar bond of union,
indicative of substantial identity, and consequently much has been
irrecoverably thrown away and sacrificed, from a mere want of uni-
ty of plan and harmony of action. The adoption of the plan sug-
gested, would consummate this unity of design and harmony of
action, secure to the cause of education the benefit of the aforesaid
experience, perpetuate in no slight degree this accumulation of
professional capital, and turn social intercourse and acquaintance
to valuable account. The labors of these Professors in the schools
for seven months of the year, could not fail to make them thorough,
accurate and expert instructors, and the three months field service
would popularize their talents and attainments, in a manner that
would be seen and felt most happily, both in their home and excur-
sion labors. This arrangement of professional duties would bring
them in contact and sympathy with the masses of their fellow-
citizens, make large drafts on their literary capital, furnish ample
opportunity for social intercourse and acquaintance with school
officers, and friends of education in all the counties in the State.
Teachers drills by day and popular lectures at night, during five
oonsecutive days, for a series of weeks, spring and autumn, would
soon revolutionize the commonwealth. The influence and power



469

of such labor cannot be fully expressed. It would fall like the dew
of heaven on thousands of young and susceptible hearts, mould-
ing the character and impelling to noble deeds and generous
.endeavor. Such enterprise and labor would open in every county
springs of perennial supply for the Normal School, and also create
a demand for all the manufactured articles, as soon as they were
, ready for the market.

The establishment of Teachers Institutes and Normal Schools
is not a visionary scheme. There is not a State north or east of
us, that has not made some public provision for Teachers Insti-
tutes, and but three of the aforesaid commonwealths are without
Normal Schools. We have the benefit of their experience. In
New York, metropolitan centralization presents its claims and
exhibits its results. In Massachusetts, we have the appropriate
workings of the opposite policy. The former, with her three mil-
lions of inhabitants, has only one, while the latter, with one-third
of the population, has established four. The example of Massa-
chusetts promises to meet our wants more effectually than the
policy of the Empire State. It will be perceived, at the first
glance, that the plan proposed contemplates the union of public
and private enterprise. The State proposes to any association of
her citizens for educational purposes, in suitable localities, a part-
nership for seven years, renewable at the pleasure of the parties,
for the establishment of Normal Schools, on the basis, that the
Association shall furnish the building, apparatus, etc., elect the
Professors, subject to the State Board's approval, and that she
will pay the salaries of the Faculty, and exercise a co-ordinate
control of the enterprise through her State Board. By this
arrangement she will have the benefit of private enterprise, zeal
and experience, confine her appropriation entirely to tuition and
lecture service, invest nothing in destructible property, and secure
the establishment of them, when and where they are wanted. If
she can get no partners on these terms, it will be partial proof,
inferential evidence, that the time for their establishment has not
arrived, or, that her terms are not sufficiently liberal.

The proposed arrangement would obviate a difficulty and remedy
an evil connected with the isolated action of these two methods
of accomplishing one and the same object, the improvement of
teachers. The Institute is nothing else, in fact, than a Normal
School, only limited in the period of its duration, and migratory
in the location of its operation. The essential elements of both
are the same, the means employed substantially alike, and the
results contemplated identical. This plan would unite elements
and efforts elsewhere disjoined. Teachers Institutes have accom-
plished far less than they would and ought to have effected, just
in consequence of the temporary character of the provision for
their support, their isolated position, and the annual change of
the corps of instructors. On the plan contemplated, the Normal
School would be converted, semi-annually, into a Teachers Insti-



470

tute for six weeks, to the manifest advancement of the cause and
to the physical recreation of the Teachers. These Professors, by
their evening lectures, would become important aids to the State
Superintendent, and these semi-annual gatherings of teachers and
friends of education, in all the counties, would furnish the Super-
intendent with the choicest material, on which to exercise his
skill, and provide him with an audience well suited to awaken his
zeal, call forth his eloquence, and quicken his educational enthusi-
asm. The generous rivalry, naturally created between these
Normal Faculties, would be a reliable guarrantee of progress.
They would become efficient co-laborers with the School Exam-
iners, valuable assistants to the Superintendent, and important
counselors and co-adjutors with the State Board of Education.
The adoption of the aforesaid plan, would give a symmetry,
completeness and efficiency to our system, that it does not now
possess, and for the want of which, it must continue to languish
and correspondingly fail of accomplishing its appropriate mission.
The expense of the four Normal School Faculties, on the plan
proposed, drawn from the annual proceeds of the School Funds,
would not lessen the appropriation to the children of the com-
monwealth three cents apiece; while the results and beneficent
bearing of their labors, on the educational progress of our youth,
would be four fold the amount of permanent benefit, that could
be realized from the expenditure of the aforesaid three cents per
scholar, in tuition of the present grade. Every consideration,
both of economy, progress and humanity, urges the adoption of
the proposed plan, or something better than this, which the wisdom
and experience of the Legislature may suggest. No time should
be lost in the introduction of this element into our educational
system. With all the dispatch that the nature of the case admits
of, it would be but barely practicable to get even a portion of the
proposed machinery in successful operation, before your success-
ors will assemble. If no action in the case is had by the present
Legislature, it will be nearly or quite four years, before the com-
monwealth can enjoy the benefits anticipated from such action.

It would seem almost superfluous to urge the establishment of
such educational machinery, where the need of it is so pressing
and obvious. There is probably not a school examiner in the
State, whose testimony on this point would not corroborate the
wisdom and necessity of such a measure. Incompetent instruction
is one of the most serious impediments in our way. The time of
our youth is not unfrequently wasted, and often worse than thrown
away. Under the tuition of teachers with but little mental and
moral culture and refinement, and possessing no professional en-
thusiasm nor sympathy with their youthful charge, how can our
children's intellects be successfully developed and disciplined?
How can their moral sympathies be properly cultivated by those,
whose hearts are not in harmony with anything that is pure and
lovely, and of good report? "We want not only a six month's



471

school for our . children every year, in the rural portions of the
State, but we are in still more pressing need of teachers of the
right stamp. Ample tuition funds, without a corresponding ad-
vance in the attainments and qualifications of the teachers, would
rather aggravate than mitigate the evil, increase rather than lessen
the disastrous results already experienced. Supplies adequate to
our necessities in this department will be sought in vain from
sister States. We have ample materials within ourselves, waiting
only development and culture, to meet all our educational exigen-
cies. Shall the means for their appropriate preparation be provided,
is the question now claiming attention and solution.



TOWNSHIP LIBRARIES.

Sufficient time has elapsed since the first selection of books was
distributed to the townships, to test, to a limited extent, the capac-
ity of the library feature as an educational instrumentality, as an
appropriate adjunct of our school system. It has, even in the brief
period of its operation, accomplished results equal to the most
sanguine expectations of its friends, and fully redeemed their
pledges in its behalf. The reports from many townships will show
that the number of books taken out, in twelve consecutive months,
is equal to from one to twenty times the entire number in the
library, a case perhaps without a parallel in the history of popular
reading.

The books of the second purchase have just been distributed,
and their reception has awakened a new interest and imparted a
fresh impulse to the reading spirit of the communities that cluster
around these literary foci, established in our nine hundred and forty
townships. The last selection contemplated the literary wants of
all classes, youth and adults, and was intended to gratify the tastes
of every calling and pursuit of life. The merchant and the farmer,
the mechanic and the physician, the lawyer and the preacher, the
youth in his teens and the sire in the evening of age, will find
something to amuse, entertain and instruct in that collection. It
will be found, on close inspection, to have laid biography and
history, travels and science, poetry and ethics under heavy contri-
bution. It will furnish rich materials for the discipline of the
mental and the culture of the moral powers, refine the taste,
chasten yet gratify the imagination, inculcate virtue, rebuke vice,
foster temperance, strengthen patriotism, encourage enterprise, con-
firm and establish whatever is lovely and of good report in char-
acter and praiseworthy in action. Such elements of power, such
capacities to move and bless, once brought in contact with plastic
mind, will produce their legitimate results and be seen in the re-



472

moval of ignorance and prejudice, the diffusion of knowledge, the
induction of truth and the culture of godliness. A mere glance at
the catalogue of the aforesaid purchase, found in the appendix,
will satisfy the most casual observer that every department of lite-
rature has been taxed. Our juveniles will find that their wants
and tastes have not been overlooked. Ample instruction, happily
combined with amusement, will be found in the Rollo books,
the Jonas and Lucy series. Cousin Alice will sweetly lead them
along the path of virtue. The Aim well stories will teach them to
shun viscious habits and cultivate virtuous principles. Old
Humphrey, in his quaint manner, will inculcate lessons not soon
to be forgotten. Woodworth's and Chamber's Miscellanies, the
Cabinet Histories of the States, Aunt Kitty's Tales, and scores
of other works on the list will furnish ample means for mental and
moral training. Our youth will have no occasion to resort to
places and amusements of doubtful character for entertainment.
Their leisure hours can be spent in the society and converse of the
most gifted intellects, and their winter evenings can all be convert-
ed into capital that will be unaffected by the fluctuations of the
market or the vicisitudes of the stock board. The merchant's clerk
will find much to impel him forward in the way of patient, persever-
ing and virtuous effort, in the Life of Amos Lawrence, Worth and
Wealth, and The Successful Merchant. The mechanic's appren-
tice will meet with no lack of incentives to noble deeds and patient
toil in the perusal of such works as Knowledge is Power, Success
in Life, The Lives of Rittenhouse and Franklin, Fulton and
Whitney. Our youth of all pursuits and both sexes will find the
library a rich and inexhaustable source of instruction, counsel and
entertainment, conducting them into every department of literature,
science and the arts. Gold and the Gospel, The Man of Business,
and other works of kindred character, will aid both youth and
adults to conduct their enterprises successfully for both worlds.

As an educator, the library will accomplish three-fold more than
the same amount of funds expended for it could effect in any
other way. Look at what it has done in scores of our townships.
It is not the fault of the library, if a like result has not been
reached in all our corporations. As a teacher, it may prosecute its
silent and unobtrusive labor around the hearth-stones, during the
entire year. It may take up its abode in every family, entertain
the parents and instruct the children, without exhausting the wid-
ow's substance or occupying the prophet's chamber. As a compan-
ion, it will make home more attractive, the family circle more happy,
neutralize the charms of the oyster saloon, the ball-room, the res-
taurant and the convivial club, and throw around our youth a pro-
tection against the seductions of the card table, the wine cup and
the theater, more potent than legislative enactments. Shall not
such an instructor be encouraged in his mission of light and love ?
Shall not his services be secured for the training of our youth and
the instruction of our adults ?



473

"Were it made an integral part of the system for merely five
years, and at an expense of only two-fifths of the present levy, it
would need nothing more to convince the most skeptical of it's
economical and effective character as an educator. Reports from
ninety township boards, giving the number of volumes taken out
of their respective libraries, during twelve consecutive months, and
expressing their views of its worth as an educational instrument-
ality have been received at this department, independent of the
reports through the Auditors. Did time and space permit, it would
be interesting to make numerous and copious extracts from these
documents. A few must suffice. A township in Dearborn county
reports 326 volumes in the library, and 1,525 taken out during the
year, and then adds, " Our State never adopted so wise a plan for
the diffusion of useful knowledge as the township library." A
township in Fountain county reports 325 volumes in the library
and 2,296 volumes taken out. A township in Franklin county,
with 328 volumes, reports 2,075 volumes taken out and then adds,
" This, we think, shows clearly enough in what estimation the
library system is held by our fellow citizens. From no one have
we ever heard a complaint on this subject." A township in Gib-
son county, with 325 volumes, reports 778 volumes taken out, and
then remarks, " There are many of our citizens who deem our
library a useless burden of taxation." A township in Grant
county, with 327 volumes, reports 1,900 volumes taken out, and then
adds, " The library feature attached to the school system is one
that should meet the approbation of every intelligent mind." A
township in Harrison county, with 322 volumes, reports 1,237 vol-
umes taken out, and proceeds to say, "We consider the library
feature of our system the most valuable one in it. In fact it is
the only one from which we have derived full and ample advan-
tages. We feel that the library system deserves to rank first in
the cause of Public Instruction." A township in Henry, county
with 255 volumes, reports 1948 volumes taken out and adds,
" These township libraries are a great institution." A township
in Knox county, with 219 volumes, reports 561 volumes taken out,
and then observes, that " there are but about thirty persons of our
township that have used the library. The board think it a great
addition to our school system." A township in Jennings county,
with 326 volumes, reports 746 volumes taken out, and then closes
with the remark, " This township desires no more books in the
library until we acquire a taste for the books furnished us." A
township in Laporte county, with only 160 volumes, reports 714
volumes taken out, and remarks, " From the above statement you
will perceive that the library is held in high estimation." A town-
ship in Morgan county, with 214 volumes, reports 618 volumes
taken out and adds, " The library is held in great esteem." A
township in Noble county, with 325 volumes, reports 1,369 volumes
taken out, and remarks, " The books are w T ell received and read in
this township." A township in Posey county, with 492 volumes,



474

reports 2,962 volumes taken out, and closes with an eulogy too long
to be quoted. A township in Ripley county, with 331 volumes,
reports 2,000 taken out and remarks, " We look on the library
system as of great importance to our educational interests in this
township." A township in Rush county, with 328 volumes, reports
1569 volumes taken out, and adds, " We know of many youth,
who, previous to its introduction, spent nearly the whole of the
sabbath in fishing or roaming in quest of mischief, and their winter
evenings in idleness, who now spend their time in reading, thus
furnishing a noble example for their elders." A township of
Warrick county reports 1920 volumes taken out, and adds, " The
trustees are much in favor of the library, and would be glad to
have it a permanent institution." A township in Washington
county, with 225 volumes, reports 1920 volumes taken out and re-
marks, " As far as information has been obtained, the citizens are



Online LibraryIndiana. General AssemblyDocumentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) → online text (page 36 of 53)