very rapidly. The system of offices will be explained in another place;
but I may say here that all appointments and elections are made in this
quarter hour, and by means of the assistance of these officers the
transaction of business is so facilitated that much more can sometimes
be accomplished than you would suppose possible. I consider this period
as one of the most important in the whole morning.
After the expiration of the quarter hour above described, the Study Card
is dropped, and a recess succeeds.
_Fourth Hour._ - _Sections_.
In all the former part of the day the scholars are divided into
_classes_, according to their proficiency in particular branches of
study, and they resort to their _recitations_ for _instruction. _ They
now are divided into six _sections_, as we call them, and placed under
the care of _superintendents_, not for instruction, but for what may be
called supervision. _Teaching_ a pupil is not all that is necessary to
be done for her in school. There are many other things to be attended
to, such as supplying her with the various articles necessary for her
use, seeing that her desk is convenient, that her time is well arranged,
that she has not too much to do nor too little, and that no difficulty
which can be removed obstructs her progress in study or her happiness in
school. The last hour is appropriated to this purpose, with the
understanding, however, that such a portion of it as is not wanted by
the superintendent is to be spent in study. You will see, then, when the
last hour arrives, that all the scholars go in various directions to the
meetings of their respective sections. Here they remain as long as the
superintendent retains them. Sometimes they adjourn almost immediately,
perhaps after having simply attended to the distribution of pens for the
next day; at other times they remain during the hour, attending to such
exercises as the superintendent may plan. The design, however, and
nature of this whole arrangement I shall explain more fully in another
_Close of the School._
As the end of the hour approaches, five minutes' notice is given by the
bell, and when the time arrives the Study Card is half dropped for a
moment before the closing exercises. When it rises again the room is
restored to silence and order. We then sing a verse or two of a hymn,
and commend ourselves to God's protection in a short prayer. As the
scholars raise their heads from the posture of reverence which they have
assumed, they pause a moment till the regulator lets down the Study
Card, and the sound of its bell is the signal that our duties at school
are ended for the day.
III. INSTRUCTION AND SUPERVISION OF PUPILS.
For the instruction of the pupils the school is divided into _classes_,
and for their general supervision into _sections_, as has been intimated
under the preceding caption. The head of a _class_ is called a
_teacher_, and the head of a _section_ a _superintendent_. The same
individual may be both the teacher of a class and the superintendent of
a section. The two offices are, however, entirely distinct in their
nature and design. As you will perceive by recalling to mind the daily
order of exercises, the classes meet and recite during the first three
hours of the school, and the sections assemble on the fourth and last.
We shall give each a separate description.
The object of the division into classes is _instruction_. Whenever it is
desirable that several individuals should pursue a particular study, a
list of their names is made out, a book selected, a time for recitation
assigned, a teacher appointed, and the exercises begin. In this way a
large number of classes have been formed, and the wishes of parents, or
the opinion of the principal, and, in many cases, that of the pupil,
determines how many and what shall be assigned to each individual. A
list of these classes, with the average age of the members, the name of
the teacher, and the time of recitation, is posted in a conspicuous
place, and public notice is given whenever a new class is formed. You
will therefore have the opportunity to know all the arrangements of
school in this respect, and I wish you to exercise your own judgment and
discretion a great deal in regard to your studies. I do not mean I
expect you to _decide_, but to _reflect_ upon them. Look at the list,
and consider what are most useful for you. Propose to me or to your
parents changes, whenever you think they are necessary; and when you
finish one study, reflect carefully, yourself, on the question what you
shall next commence.
The scholars prepare their lessons when they please. They are expected
to be present and prepared at the time of recitation, but they make the
preparation when it is most convenient. The more methodical and
systematic of the young ladies mark the times of _study_ as well as of
_recitation_ upon their schedules, so that the employment of their whole
time at school is regulated by a systematic plan. You will observe, too,
that by this plan of having a great many classes reciting through the
first three hours of the morning, every pupil can be employed as much or
as little as her parents desire. In a case of ill health, she may, as
has often been done in such cases at the request of parents, join one or
two classes only, and occupy the whole forenoon in preparing for them,
and be entirely free from school duties at home. Or she may, as is much
more frequently the case, choose to join a great many classes, so as to
fill up, perhaps, her whole schedule with recitations, in which case she
must prepare all her lessons at home. It is the duty of teachers to take
care, however, when a pupil pleads want of time as a reason for being
unprepared in any lesson, that the case is fully examined, in order that
it may be ascertained whether the individual has joined too many
classes, in which case some one should be dropped, and thus the time and
the employments of each individual should be so adjusted as to give her
constant occupation _in school,_ and as much more as her parents may
desire. By this plan of the classes, each scholar advances just as
rapidly in her studies as her time, and talents, and health will allow.
No one is kept back by the rest. Each class goes on regularly and
systematically, all its members keeping exactly together in that study;
but the various members of it will have joined a greater or less number
of other classes, according to their age, or abilities, or progress in
study, so that all will or may have full employment for their time.
When you first enter the school, you will, for a day or two, be assigned
to but few classes, for your mind will be distracted by the excitement
of new scenes and pursuits, and the intellectual effort necessary for
_joining_ a class is greater than that requisite for _going on_ with it
after being once under way. After a few days you will come to me and
say, perhaps (for this is ordinarily the process),
"Mr. Abbott, I think I have time for some more studies."
"I will thank you to bring me your schedule," I say in reply, "so that I
can see what you have now to do."
By glancing my eye over the schedule in such a case, I see in a moment
what duties have been already assigned you, and from my general
schedule, containing all the studies of the school, I select what would
be most suitable for you after conferring with you about your past
pursuits, and your own wishes or those of your parents in regard to your
future course. Additions are thus made until your time is fully
The manner of recitation in the classes is almost boundlessly varied.
The design is not to have you commit to memory what the book contains,
but to understand and digest it - to incorporate it fully into your own
mind, that it may come up in future life in such a form as you wish it
for use. Do not then, in ordinary cases, endeavor to fix _words_, but
_ideas_ in your minds. Conceive clearly - paint distinctly to your
imagination what is described - contemplate facts in all their bearings
and relations, and thus endeavor to exercise the judgment, and the
thinking and reasoning powers, rather than the mere memory, upon the
subjects which will come before you.
In describing the order of daily exercises, I alluded to the _sections_
which assemble in the last hour of the school. It is necessary that I
should fully describe the system of sections, as it constitutes a very
important part of the plan of the school.
Besides giving the scholars the necessary intellectual instruction,
there are, as I have already remarked, a great many other points which
must receive attention in order to promote their progress, and to secure
the regular operation and general welfare of the school. These various
points have something common in their nature, but it is difficult to
give them a common name. They are such as supplying the pupils with pens
and paper, and stationery of other kinds; becoming acquainted with each
individual; ascertaining that she has enough and not too much to do;
arranging her work so that no one of her duties shall interfere with
another; assisting her to discover and correct her faults, and removing
any sources of difficulty or causes of discontent which may gradually
come in her way. These, and a multitude of similar points, constituting
what may be called the general _administration_ of the school, become,
when the number of pupils is large, a most important branch of the
To accomplish these objects more effectually, the school is divided into
six sections, arranged, not according to proficiency in particular
studies, as the several classes are, but according to _age and general
maturity of mind._ Each one of these sections is assigned to the care of
a superintendent. These superintendents, it is true, during most of
school hours, are also teachers. Their duties, however, as _Teachers_
and as _Superintendents_, are entirely distinct. I shall briefly
enumerate the duties which devolve upon her in the latter capacity.
1. A superintendent ought to prepare an exact list of the members of her
section, and to become intimately acquainted with them, so as to be as
far as possible their friend and confidante, and to feel a stronger
interest in their progress in study and their happiness in school, and a
greater personal attachment to them than to any other scholars.
2. She is to superintend the preparation of their schedules; to see that
each one has enough and not too much to do, by making known to me the
necessity of a change, where such necessity exists; to see that the
schedules are submitted to the parents, and that their opinion or
suggestions, if they wish to make any, are reported to me.
3. She is to take care that all the daily wants of her section are
supplied - that all have pens and paper, and desks of suitable height. If
any are new scholars, she ought to interest herself in assisting them to
become acquainted in school; if they are friendless and alone, to find
companions for them, and to endeavor in every way to make their time
pass pleasantly and happily.
4. To watch the characters of the members of her section. To inquire of
their several teachers as to the progress they make in study, and the
faithfulness and punctuality with which they prepare their lessons. She
ought to ascertain whether they are punctual at school and regular in
their habits - whether their desks are neat and well arranged, and their
exercises carefully executed. She ought to correct, through her own
influence, any evils of this kind she may find, or else immediately to
refer the cases where this can not be done to me.
The better and the more pleasantly to accomplish the object of exerting
a favorable influence upon the characters of the members of their
section, the superintendents ought often to bring up subjects connected
with moral and religious duty in section meetings. This may be done in
the form of subjects assigned for composition, or proposed for free
discussion in writing or conversation, or the superintendents may write
themselves, and read to the section the instructions they wish to give.
When subjects for written composition are thus assigned, they should be
so presented to the pupils as to lead their minds to a very practical
mode of regarding them. For example, instead of simply assigning the
subject _Truth_ as the theme of an abstract moral essay, bring up
definite points of a practical character, such especially as are
connected with the trials and temptations of early life. "I wish you
would all give me your opinions," the teacher might say in such a case,
"on the question, What is the most frequent inducement that leads
children to tell falsehoods? Also, do you think it is right to tell
untruths to very little children, as many persons do, or to people who
are sick? Also, whether it would be right to tell a falsehood to an
insane man in order to manage him?"
Sometimes, instead of assigning a subject of composition _verbally_, the
superintendent exhibits an engraving, and the several members of the
class then write any thing they please which is suggested to them by
the engraving. For example, suppose the picture thus exhibited were to
represent a girl sewing in an attic. The compositions to which it would
give rise might be very various. One pupil would perhaps simply give an
account of the picture itself, describing the arrangements of the room,
and specifying the particular articles of furniture contained in it.
Another would give a soliloquy supposed to be spoken by the sewing-girl
as she sits at her work. Another would narrate the history of her life,
of course an imaginary one. Another would write an essay on the
advantages of industry and independence.
This is a very good way of assigning subjects of composition, and, if
well managed, it may be the means of awakening a great interest in
writing among almost all the pupils of a school.
5. Though the superintendents, as such, have, necessarily speaking, no
_teaching_ to do, still they ought particularly to secure the progress
of every pupil in what may be called the _essential_ studies, such as
reading, writing, and spelling. For this purpose, they either see that
their pupils are going on successfully in classes in school in these
branches, or they may attend to them in the section, provided that they
never allow such instruction to interfere with their more appropriate
and important duties.
In a word, the superintendents are to consider the members of their
sections as pupils confided to their care, and they are not merely to
discharge mechanically any mere routine of duty, such as can be here
pointed out, but to exert all their powers, their ingenuity, their
knowledge of human character, their judgment and discretion, in every
way, to secure for each of those committed to their care the highest
benefits which the institution to which they belong can afford. They are
to keep a careful and faithful record of their plans and of the history
of their respective sections, and to endeavor as faithfully and as
diligently to advance the interests of the members of them as if the
sections were separate and independent schools of their own.
A great responsibility is thus evidently intrusted to them, but not a great
deal of _power_. They ought not to make changes, except in very plain
cases, without referring the subject to me. They ought not to make rash
experiments, or even to try many new plans, without first obtaining my
approval of them. They ought to refer all cases which they can not easily
manage to my care. They ought to understand the distinction between _seeing
that a thing is done_ and _doing it_. For example, if a superintendent
thinks that one of her section is in too high a class in Arithmetic, her
duty is not to undertake, by her own authority, to remove her to a lower
one, for, as superintendent, she has no authority over Arithmetic classes,
nor should she go to the opposite extreme of saying, "I have no authority
over Arithmetic classes, and therefore I have nothing to do with this
case." She ought to go to the teacher of the class to which her pupil
had been unwisely assigned, converse with her, obtain her opinion, then
find some other class more suited to her attainments, and after fully
ascertaining all the facts in the case, bring them to me, that I may
make the change. This is _superintendence - looking over_ the condition
and progress of the scholar. The superintendents have thus great
responsibility, and yet, comparatively, little power. They accomplish a
great deal of good, and, in its ordinary course, it is by their direct
personal efforts; but in making changes, and remedying defects and
evils, they act generally in a different way.
The last hour of school is devoted to the sections. No classes recite
then, but the sections meet, if the superintendents wish, and attend to
such exercises as they provide. Each section has its own organization,
its own officers and plans. These arrangements of course vary in their
character according to the ingenuity and enterprise of the
superintendents, and more especially according to the talents and
intellectual ardor of the members of the section.
The two upper sections are called senior, the next two middle, and the
two younger junior. The senior sections are distinguished by using paper
for section purposes with a light blue tinge. To the middle sections is
assigned a light straw color; and to the junior, pink. These colors are
used for the schedules of the members, and for the records and other
documents of the section.
This account, though it is brief, will be sufficient to explain to you
the general principles of the plan. You will soon become acquainted with
the exercises and arrangements of the particular section to which you
will be assigned, and by taking an active interest in them, and
endeavoring to cooperate with the superintendent in all her measures and
to comply with her wishes, you will very materially add to her
happiness, and do your part toward elevating the character of the
circle to which you will belong.
In consequence of the disposition early manifested by the scholars to
render me every assistance in their power in carrying into effect the
plans of the school and promoting its prosperity, I gradually adopted
the plan of assigning to various officers and committees, a number of
specific duties relating to the general business of the school. These
officers have gradually multiplied as the school has increased and as
business has accumulated. The system has, from time to time, been
revised, condensed, and simplified, and at the present time it is thus
arranged. The particular duties of each officer are minutely described
to the individuals themselves at the time of their election; all I
intend here is to give a general view of the plan, such as is necessary
for the scholars at large.
There are, then, _five departments_ of business intrusted to officers of
the school. The names of the officers, and a brief exposition of their
duties, are as follows:
[I omit the particular explanation of the duties of the officers, as the
arrangement must vary in different schools, and the details of any one
plan can only be useful in the school-room to which it belongs. It will
be sufficient to name the officers of each department, with their
duties, in general terms.]
1. REGULATORS. - To assist in the ordinary routine of business in school:
ringing the bells; managing the Study Card; distributing and collecting
papers; counting votes, &c.
2. SECRETARIES. - Keeping the records, and executing writing of various
3. ACCOUNTANTS. - Keeping a register of the scholars, and various other
duties connected with the accounts.
4. LIBRARIANS. - To take charge of books and stationery.
5. CURATORS. - To secure neatness and good order in the apartments.
The secretaries and accountants are appointed by the principal, and
will generally be chosen from the teachers. The first in each of the
other departments are chosen by ballot, by the scholars. Each one thus
chosen nominates the second in her department, and they two the
assistants. These nominations must be approved at a teachers' meeting;
for, if a scholar is inattentive to her studies, disorderly in her desk,
or careless and troublesome in her manners, she evidently ought not to
be appointed to public office. No person can hold an office in two of
these departments. She can, if she pleases, however, resign one to
accept another. Each of these departments ought often to assemble and
consult together, and form plans for carrying into effect with greater
efficiency the objects intrusted to them. They are to keep a record of
all their proceedings, the head of the department acting as secretary
for this purpose.
The following may be given as an example of the manner in which business
is transacted by means of these officers. On the day that the above
description of their duties was written, I wished for a sort of
directory to assist the collector employed to receive payments for the
bills, and, to obtain it, I took the following steps:
At the business quarter hour I issued the following order:
"Before the close of school, I wish the distributors to leave upon each
of the desks a piece of paper" (the size I described). "It is for a
purpose which I shall then explain."
Accordingly, at some leisure moment before the close of school, each one
of the regulators went with her box to the stationery shelves, which you
will see in the corners of the room, where a supply of paper of all the
various sizes used in school is kept, and, taking out a sufficient
number, they supplied all the desks in their respective divisions.
When the time for closing school arrived, I requested each young lady to
write the name of her parent or guardian upon the paper, and opposite
to it his place of business. This was done in a minute or two.
"All those whose parent's or guardian's name begins with a letter above
_m_ may rise."
"The distributors may collect the papers."
The officers then passed round in regular order, each through her own
division, and collected the papers.
"Deliver them at the accountants' desk."
They were accordingly carried there, and received by the accountants.
In the same manner, the others were collected and received by the
accountants, but kept separate.
"I wish now the second accountant would copy these in a little book I
have prepared for the purpose, arranging them alphabetically, referring
all doubtful cases again to me."
The second accountant then arranged the papers, and prepared them to go
into the book, and the writer who belongs to the department copied them
I describe this case, because it was one which occurred at the time I
was writing the above description, and not because there is any thing
otherwise peculiar in it. Such cases are continually taking place, and
by the division of labor above illustrated, I am very much assisted in a
great many of the duties which would otherwise consume a great portion
of my time.
Any of the scholars may at any time make suggestions in writing to any
of these officers or to the whole school; and if an officer should be
partial, or unfaithful, or negligent in her duty, any scholar may
propose her impeachment. After hearing what she chooses to write in her
defense, a vote is taken on sustaining the impeachment. If it is
sustained, she is deprived of the office, and another appointed to fill
V. THE COURT.
I have already described how all serious cases of doing wrong or neglect
of duty are managed in the school. I manage them myself, by coming as
directly and as openly as I can to the heart and conscience of the
offender. There are, however, a number of little transgressions, too
small to be individually worthy of serious attention, but which are yet
troublesome to the community when frequently repeated. These relate
chiefly to _order in the school-rooms_. These misdemeanors are tried,
half in jest and half in earnest, by a sort of _court_, whose forms of
process might make a legal gentleman smile. They, however, fully answer
our purpose. I can best give you an idea of the court by describing an
actual trial. I ought, however, first to say that any young lady who
chooses to be free from the jurisdiction of the court can signify that
wish to me, and she is safe from it. This, however, is never done. They
all see the useful influence of it, and wish to sustain it.