Massachusetts. Board of Education.

Annual report of the Board of Education online

. (page 20 of 56)
Online LibraryMassachusetts. Board of EducationAnnual report of the Board of Education → online text (page 20 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

direct and succeed efforts to benefit them, and not to look to Him con-
stantly for help, is to neglect one of the most important duties of a teacher.
A Great Presence in the school-room is ignored, a Great Helper is neg-
lected, and the condition of the highest success is unfulfilled. In periods
of weariness, perplexity and despondency, a teacher needs to know how to
cast all care on the heavenly Father and secure his help.

Cases of peculiar difficulty — ^as when one inquires how a dull, or a list-
less, or a wayward, or obstinate pupil, is to be won back from evil habits,
should be carried up to God with request for guidance and help.

Some of the most important lessons of school are derived from the exam-
ple of the teacher. This is a text-book always open before the eyes of
the school, an object of observation, of study and imitation. The spirit and
temper of the teacher are insensibly communicated to the pupils ; they
learn to take the teacher's stand-point, and to look out upon life and the
world as the teacher does.

The moet thorough scholarship and brilliant accomplishments cannot
atone for. the exhibition bf a proud, or selfish, or narrow, or passionate
spirit An ungodly person cannot have the peculiar type of character
which lies at the foundation of the best influences. He can never act
Qoder the purest motives. He cannot, in emergencies, have the wisdom
and fortitude which would be available, did he use the privilege offered
by a merciful God. He cannot so effectively appeal to the best sensibil-
ities of his pupils, as he would be able to do if he were in fellowship with

The Christian character that devoutly recognizes God in everything,
and glows with love to all, and is in sympathy with every good work, is
not only the highest, but the only style of character that should be set for
the imitation of the young.

The character and spirit of the Great Teachier are worthy of universal
imitation. Hia dignity and love. His gentleness and firmness. His earnest-
ness and patience, His purity and sympathy, are still the elements of a
character toward which every teacher should aspire. They who would


Digitized by LjOOQ iC


realize the best success must have fellowship with Him. His spirit miiBt
lead and strengthen them, His love "animate them, and the smile of His *
approval be their best reward.

The care of a rational and immortal being in the forming period of its
existence is one of the most important trusts givea to man. At this sea-
son character takes its shape and complexion. It is the season of oppor:
tunities, — what those opportmiities shall be worth is in a great degree for
the parent and teacher to determine. Their neglect may almost destroy
the value of good advantages, while a vigilant use of inferior means of
education, with the blessing of God, may secure some of its most desirable

A wise provision for schools is of advantage to the general interests of a
town. It increases the value of every fiurm and of every dwelling. It is •
one of the essentials of a place. Towns may be found in which education
is neglected; the school-houses uncomfortable and unwholesome; the
schools ^hort; the teachers incompetent; the parents indifferent; and the
scholars rude and backward. Such towns save a few dollars annually in
diminished taxes for schools, but it is an immense sacrifice in other
respects. Ail interests, — social, pecuniary, political, moral and religious, —
are depressed by this grand defect of poor schools. Wise parents are
unwilling to allow families of children to remain in circumstances so unfa-
vorable. The best of the people become dissatisfied and restlasa, and sell
and move away. Real estate depreciates ; all values fall, and nothing caa
raise them to what they might and should be, till better provision is made
for the education of the young.

Best Schools Cheapest. — Best things are in the end least expensive. It
is so with the tools of the mechanic and the instruments of the farmer.
Wooden ploughs, like those in use eighty years -ago, might be nuinu&o-
tured at less cost than the beautiful instruments now employed, but they
would be in use far more costly. The jennies and looms of our factories
require large outlay of capital, as compared with the simple spinning
wheels and looms of our grandmothers. But they produce nicer fabrics
for less money. The best school arrangements are most profitable in the
end. Their infiuence is felt in every house and by every person. Business
is improved and even real estate rises in communities which provide best
for educational interests. The most perfect system cannot indeed insure
desired results. Dull scholars are found in the best schools, but in educa-
tion as in every other interest, the law of cause and effect holds good.
Provide adequately for the education of the young and intelligence will
be the general result. Neglect the interests of education and ignorance
with its sad train of disadvantages will prevail.

Ths Whole Town BeneJUed by a High School — All houses in a district
cannot be equally near its school-house. All parts of the town cannot be

Digitized by LjOOQ iC


equally near a central High SchooL In some casea distance may diminish,
the value of a school, jet the disadvantages of distance are often over-
rated. Some of the poorest scholars, who have heen most irregular in
attendance and indolent in study, have been within five minutes walk of
the school. Some of the most punctual, constant and advanced have lived
iji the remote parts^of their district. It is believed that the history of the
town for many years wHl show that remoteness from schools, within the
narrow limits of our territory, has not hindered the education of the chil-
dren. On the other hand, this apparent disadvantage has favored health,
diligence and good scholarship. It is therefore for the interest of every
part of a district, even the most remote, that the school should be the best
It has been unwisely objected to a High School at or near the centre of
the town, that it will afford special privileges to the central districts, with
little advantage to other sections of the town. It is a gain to the more
dbtant parts of a town that there should be a thrifly centre. Take away
the villages from Concord* aiid Groton, and leave instead only forms and
icattered dwellings, and at once the value of every homestead in those
towns would fall. As those villages grow and their privileges improve,
all the interests of their towns rise with them. Should some change occur
hj which the population of the centre of our town should rapidly increase,
and be numbered by thousands, the change would be for the advantage of
every part of the town. Whatever benefits the centre of Littleton, ben*
efits the Old Common and Nashoba and Newtown. There is properly no
rivalry and no occasion for jealousy between the eentre and the other neigh-
borhoods of the town. A country without cities and Tillages would lacl^
(me important condition of prosperity ; and not only are cities and large
villages needed, but every town needs its own village centre. The larger
and more prosperous its centre, the better fpr the town as a whole.

As citizens then we should consider, not what will be for the particular
benefit of one section, but what system of schools do we as a town need ?
I( is for the interest of (he most remote sections, that as a town we should
have the best possible facilities for education. As the mill, the store, the
po6t<office, the railroad station and the public house are of decided advan-
tage to all, though not equally convenient for all, so a good High School,
at or near the centre of the town, would be a blessing from Harvard line
to Westtbrd and from Groton to Acton. The disadvantages of distance
from school, like those of distance from the store or railroad station, are
to be regretted, but unavoidable to most and a slight consideration
eompared with the value of the privilege.

The true principle of social life is to adopt that which will be for the
general good. If a measure is decidedly for the advantage of a commu-
nity as a whole, even those not directly benefited should favor it. They


Digitized by LjOOQ iC


degrade themselves and wrong society, who demand that personal interests
shall stand before the higher and broader interests of the public
ChairmaiL'-C, M. Wtlljlrd.


Let public spirit fail in every other work sooner than in the matter of
providing educational advantages. Let every other town appropriation
be stinted rather than those for the support of our schools. Let us put
ourselves abreast the times in this work. Never in the history of the
country has there been greater activity in educational matters, or greater
occasion for interest and effort We have educational journals ; teachers
associations, town, county, State and national ; institutes and conventions
held with considerable frequency, with much discussion of subjects and
exhibition of methods, and special schools for the professional training of
teachers. With all these appliances we ought to have, as indeed we do
have, improved teaching and better schools. The mechanic and fine arts
are advanced by the patient efforts of artists and inventors, and the art
of teaching forms no exception to the law which governs all haman

The highest welfare of our Commonwealth is intimately connected with
the education of its children. There is no interest under the care of the
State that is of so much importance. That town or city that makes liberal
appropriations for its schools is wise. Our fathers nourished with wbe and
consttint efforts their gradually developed system of education. They
acted upon the principle that education is a debt due from the present to
future generations. Their labor is justified by its results. It is our busi-
ness to carry forward the work, presuming that no goal of perfection has
yet been reached. The greatness of our legacy from those who have gone
before us increases our debt to the future. Massachusetts has made for
herself an honorable name by her systematic efforts for public education.
Younger sisters in the republic have copied her methods, and sought the
services of teachers trained under her system.

What more coveted position for a State, than to have her educational
institutipns studied by educators from distant States and nations, as unsur-
passed models! " You will confer," says Epictetus, **the greatest benefit
on your city, not by raising roofs, but by exalting the souls of your fellow-
citizens ; for it is better that great souls should live in small habitations,
than that abject slaves should burrow in great houses."

School Cbmimttee.— HsmtT J. Riohardbok, William Fostbb, J. Dbxtbb Shbbmak,
James Fabilab, Jr., Samttbl H. Pibrob, William MACXoiTotB.

Digitized by LjOOQ iC




And first we desire to call attention to the following table, showing the
lo6s to the town in mere monej in consequence of the absence of those
scholars from the different schools, who are members of the same. It does
not touch the class of non-attendants of whom we have spoken before, nor
does it include any of the expenses of the school outside of the sums paid
to the teachers. If we were to add to these figures all other expenses
attending the schools, it would show a still larger amount of waste.

Tablb thawing the Number of Days of Absence in each Schooly for each
Term^ and Actual Loss arising therefrom for the year 1866.

School axd Wabd.




Higb, . . . . 5

Summer, .

Fall, ....

Winter, .

. ....

Summer, .

Fall, ....

Wmter, .

. ....

Summer, .

Fall,. . . .

Winter, . . .

Summer, •

Fall, . . . ,

Winter, •

Summer, .

Fall, ....

Winter, .

. ....

Summer, •

Fall, ....

Winter, ...

. ....


•89 70

48 76
50 57

Totals, ....
Grammar, . . • -j



9189 08

916 08

8 25

14 80

Totals, ....
Intcnnediate, . . \



•89 08

•U 07

8 52

10 85

Totals, ....
Primarr, . . . |



129 94

915 46
14 47
54 81

Totals, ....
Wiixi2,' . .* . ^



t48 44

•15 00

7 50

20 84

Totals. ....

Wards, . . • )



143 34

$11 25

20 94

6 00

Totals, ....


$38 19

Digitized by LjOOQ iC


Aggregate amount of days there sfaoald be for the year, . 45,045
^* " of actual attendance for the year, . . 88,455

Aggregate amount of days of absence for the year, . 7,190

Cost of days lost, 9344.09, being nearly 10 {>er cent, of the time, and 16^ per
cent of the money.

The loss in the difierent schools is varied by the number of scholars attendoig
the same.

Now calling two hundred days a High School year, this lost time is
equal to thirty-six years for one person, or nearly the time required for
nine persons to go through with a regular college course, or to bring it
nearer home, it is equal to throwing away the time of a school of forty-five
scholars for one whole school-year of thirty-two weeks* Those who ^ece
present at the examination of the school taught by Miss B — •- — , at the
close of the fall term, will please tell us the effect of discontinuing that
school for one whole year, and continuing all the expenses of it for the
same time, which would not be as much by about fifty dollars as the money
loss before shown, and this is no more than has been done.

Again, the money lost by the absence, as before shown, would pay the
salioy of the High School teacher four months, or it would purchase a fine
apparatus for illustrating the natural sciences in our schools, or would fur-
nish all our school-rooms in two years with good musical instrumenta, so
long talked of.

In all seriousness we would ask our fellow-citizens if they would
manage their business affiiirs in this way ?

This loss of time and money we fear is not the most serious loss in
many cases.

Where are our children when out of school at the time the schools are
in session ? Some of course are detained by sickness or other necessity ;
some for pleasure ; some because they *'• don't want to go to examination **
(which shows a serious lack of family government ;) and many, as the
registers show, are "absent to work."

Now we cannot believe that any amount of money earned by a young
lad or Miss, when he or she ought to be in school, will' ever make up a
tithe of the loss of an education. When our prominent business men are
willing, with such unanimity, to be so heavily taxed for the support of
schools, it is certainly suicidal in us, who can give our children no other
patrimony than an education, not to avail ourselves to the utmost of the
precious advantages.

School 0Mimitfee. - GB0. S. Rawsom, D. B. Goodalb, H. C. Dugak.

Digitized by LjOOQ iC



A department which requiree an investment in real estate of some
$200,000, an annoal omlaj of more than $80,000, and employs ninety-
eight specially' educated men and women at liberal wages, would in almost
any business be held, without question, to require an active, vigilant
sopervisor. When to the foregoing features we add the general over-
light of six thousand children scacttered through a great city, and the
edacational oversight of the second municipality of the Commonwealth,
the constant services of a superintendent would seem, and experience
shows them to be, as Important in our school system as in a ootton-mill, a
rsilway or a machine-shop. Those who suppose the office to be a sinecure
«re respecfuUy referred to the retiring superintendent's description of his
labors for the present year as given in his report An officer who finds
that amount of work to do and does it well, cannot easily be considered
BDperflnous or the subject of unnecessary expense. The result of the
eommittee's experience is such that they would sooner think of abandoning
ahnoet any other feature of our school organization than the office of

Not only should teachers be well educated in books and in things, but
they should have the teaching faculty. This rarely comes by nature, nor
can it be acquired by all who desire it Many a profound student of
Algebra or Geometry cannot teach Vulger Fractions, and not a few pro-
ficients in Trigonometry would totally fail as teachers of Addition or Sub-
traction. The power to teach, then, does not depend on scholarship. It
must be worked for and acliieved, like skill in any other calling. The
candidate for the ministry must study theology, the physician must have
aceomplished a long and thorough course of medical studies and researches
before he receives his diploma, and the embryo lawyer must serve almost
half as long as Jacob served for Rachel before he can help his first client
get convicted. Li the manual arts, too, a course of training is considered
necessary before the beginner becomes a journeyman. Indeed, teaching is
the one great if not only exception to the rule. This delicate, difficult and
most important calling is too often thought to require no preparation
beyond a Onnmon School education. Hence, every year, many young
women on graduating from the High School immediately apply for perma-
nent teacherships, and through themselves, their relatives and their friends,
keep a constant pressure on the committee to secure the desired means of

Through the occasional election of such applicants, there can be found
in some of our schools rudej, old-fashioned methods of teaching, or rather
d bearing lessons, that have long been obsolete in most intelligent
Tillages. During the past year some of our teachers have even been
&nnd compelling their pupils to commit to memory the pages of their

Digitized by LjOOQ iC


text-book in History, and to be laboring under the delusion that this opera-
tion was teaching History. With the liberal salaries paid, is it not time
that the untrained and inexperienced should no longer be placed over our
schoob ? The State has provided four Normal Schools of high character,
where gratuitous instruction is given to those who wish to become teachers ;
other institutions for the same purpose are found in various directions.
If a young woman has not taken pains to fit herself especially for teach-
ing, if she has not availed herself of the free instruction of the Normal
Schools or has not acquired experience at the expense of some other com-
munity, is it not time that she should be refused a place even among our
candidates for examination ? When our young men on leaving the High
School are at once selected to preach, or practice law or physic, to man-
age mills or engines, to be cashiers or treasurers, or to take charge of
shops or railways, it will be consistent to simultaneously call the graduates
of the other sex to our teacherships, but not till then. In some places, the
evil complained of has been carried so far that the public teacherships
have been mainly regarded as sinecures where the female relatives and
friends of the committee might accumulate a little dowry. It is hoped
that no person will ever find reason to say the same of LowelL

The committee agree with the superintendent that our High School
should ofier a much wider range of study. Geology, which unfolds so
many of the wonders of creation, and reveals to us so much of the Maker's
power and wisdom at every step we take upon the earth ; — Botany, which
op^ns the eye to such an infinitude of beauty, before unappreciated, and
which has so much practical usefulness, and which encourages habits and
tastes so promotive of health and happiness ; — Zoology, which ma^es us
familiar with the animal kingdom and supplies the mind with unfailing
resources wherever and however it may be situated — ^these,' certainly
should find a place in our regular High School course. Instead of the
present superficial study of Physical Greography, there should be a
thorough handling of that subject, binding the three branches alreadj
named, and their adjuncts, into a harmonious whole.

Chemistry and Natural Philosophy should be so taught that every
graduate of the lligh School would be as familiar with the chemistry and
mechanical science of common life and of the principal arts followed by
,our community, as with those frivolities, fashions and amusements which
are so readily learned, whose hard technical terms are so easily mastered
and whose details are so exactly remembered. Nor should Astronomy
remain the dry, useless branch it now is, but it should be made a fascinaticm,
and the pupils be led never to look on the evening sky without a lively
feeling thai it indeed declares ** the glory of God," nor without an ability
as well as eagerness to make the dullest eye see how '* the firmanent show-
eth his handiwork.** Let these sciences be taught with the thorough-

Digitized by LjOOQlC


Dess and enthasiasm with which Mathematics and the Classics now are, and
our High School will furnbh an English education of far higher quality
than ever before. The- committee see indications of progress in this
department, and believe that the next board will find the school on an
ascending path, gaining every term a wider and wider sweep of the
educational horizon.

Many scholars enter the High School a year too soon. A large share
of the lowest class there should remain longer in the first class of the
Grammar Schools. Then, not only would the High School, with its more
mature and better prepared pupils, reach heights now beyond its strength,
but the Grammar Schools would be more than correspondingly elevated.
These latter schools are doing well the work assigned for them and are
meeting with gratifying success, but the premature transfer of their best
classes to the High School, reduces them far below the position they should
occupy. Greneral History, Drawing, and the elements of the Natural
Sciences should all be embraced in the Grammar School course, a course
beyond which so many of our young men and young women are unable to
proceed. The interest of this latter class require that the Grammar
Schools furnish a more advanced course than at present. If, then, a part
of the lowest work of the High School should be transferred to the Gram-
mar Schools, both grades of schools and all classes of scholars would be
greatly benefited.

In the course of study indicated for the Grammar Schools, it is hardly
ju8t to say that any one branch should be jregarded as more important than
another. All should receive proportionate attention, and the educational
structure be kept harmonious and evenly balanced. It seems, however,
with respect to those whose schooling ends with the Grammar Schools, to
be quite as important that they should have been made familiar with the
world in which they live — its history, its geography, its commerce, its
toimals and plants and minerals, its geological structure and productions,
its astronomy, the laws of natural philosophy and those which govern the
health and mental development of mankind, — ^as to have mastered the
ftH>re advanced problems in arithmetic or to have fastened into the memory
the abstrusities and often fanciful minutia of the higher divisions of our
constantly changing text-books in Grammar. The great Book, speaking
of the wisdom of Solomon, sums up the subjects of his learning which
attracted the attention of ^ all the kings of the earth,*" as follows : —

^ He spake of the trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even
onto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall ; he spake also of beasts, and
tf fowl, and of creeping things and of fishes.''

Id the subordination of all other branches to Arithmetic and Grammari
seen in some of our schools of this grade, are not we /orgetting, not merely
MHne of the most useful and improving topics of information, but. some of

Digitized by LjOOQ iC


tbe snblimest sources of wisdom ? May it not, then, be hoped that by
increasing the requirements for promotion, a higher class of scholars will
hereafter be retained in the Grammer Schools and a wider range of studies
be there pursued ; while bj annually introducing a more mature class into
the lowest dirision of the High School, that institution shall also be greatlj
expanded and elevated ?

Online LibraryMassachusetts. Board of EducationAnnual report of the Board of Education → online text (page 20 of 56)