Изображения страниц

ficant test of the national character. The ambitions of a nation, with respect to objects outside of itself, often are among the most powerful inspirations to enterprise among its people.

Our fathers proclaimed a larger liberty, a more universal justice, a greater equality, a liberty, justice, and equality possible only with the universality of intelligence and virtue. Where they made mistakes, we, at the cost of immense treasure and blood, have applied correctives. We say to all the world “this is the better way,” and invite the nations to walk therein. Reducing force to its minimum, and even below that degree of exercise, which assures life and property in the government of our domestic affairs, we send our flag abroad on every sea and in every clime, backed less by the potency of our armaments than by the moral power which inheres in the intelligence, virtue, liberty, and universal enterprise of a great, growing, and united people.

The late unparalleled exertion of military prowess in the enforcement of our domestic unity has turned the eyes of the world anew to the study of American institutions, if by any means they may discover the secret of our success. Profound statesmen in civilized countries have long believed, and acted upon the belief, that national training shapes national character. What they would infuse into the nation, they first put into the school. Naturally enough, they believe the sources of American greatness are to be found in our education. But when they come here for these studies, how disjointed and fragmentary are the excellencies they find, how manifest the opportunities for improvement.*


* The following letter, from one of the most intelligent and candid of this class of observers, is in point:

“WASHINGTOX, D. C., Norember 2, 1870. “MY DEAR GENERAL: I have much pleasure in answering your inquiry as to my opinion of the American school system. I may congratulate you without reserve on possessing, in all the States through which I have passed, the best and most commodious school-houses in the world. Nothing which I have seen in any European country will compare with them; the State of Massachusetts, I think, and more especially the city of Boston, standing preëminent. The normal schools which I have seen are excellent, and the attainments of the teachers, especially of the female teachers, beyond anything I could have expected, and far beyond anything I have witnessed elsewhere.

“The munificence of the American people in the sections I have visited, in providing schools, is, in my opinion, entirely without a parallel; a good education being offered free to every American child. If I have any regret it is to notice that where such ample, almost lavish, provision has been made, there are still many who partake very sparingly only, while others absent themselves altogether from the feast. If you could introduce a plan for enforcing regular attendance for a course of years, as is done in Germany, your educational system would leave little or nothing to be desired. I may state, from long experience, that where the education of children is wholly dependent upon the parents, selfishness, or the indifference, or intemperate habits of many, will cause a considerable number to be entirely neglected, or only partially educated; and, in a country like yours, where the only guarantee for your free institutions is the intelligent assent and support of the citizens, the State and the nation have a right to demand that those who share in the government of the country and enjoy its privileges shall have had the advantage of education and a virtuous training.

“In my opinion the successful working of the schools in Boston is mainly attributable

[ocr errors]

They generally limit their observations to cities, and these almost exclusively in the northern and eastern sections of the country. Rarely has any one looked over the entire field and taken a view so compre· hensive as to embrace the opportunities of education in all sections, in the country as well as in the city; institutions, public and private, for elementary, secondary, and superior or technical education, counted the whole educable population, determined how many are unreached even by rudimentary instruction, how very limited the number who have any thorough secondary or superior culture. They can see only in part. No report has ever grouped these facts together. Our own statesmen are without an adequate knowledge of them. Our citizens, at home and abroad, however intelligent, are unable to represent them correctly. Seeking to educate the world, we have not even prepared the text-book. There is here a field fitted to rouse the profoundest philanthropist and inspire the highest American endeavor. Shall not the nation at least so group together the facts and statistics that its own officers

may know how this work proceeds; so that our ministers and other representatives abroad may be able to speak intelligently in answer to inquiries for information on this subject?

During the past few months two colonies of Australia, from their solitude in the seas, two of the South American states, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, a commissioner from the French ministry of public instruction, our own ministers at Vienna and Stockholm, and friends of to the fact that large compulsory powers are exercised by the school board of that city. I can quite understand that American citizens generally need no compulsory powers to enforce the education of their children, but with the immense influx of emigrants from all quarters of the world, too many of them, also, entirely illiterate, it is not safe to commit to the discretion of such persons the question whether the future citizens of this country shall or shall not be educated. It appears to me that a great impulse could be given to the work of education in every State by the exercise of some central inspection and supervision from your own Department. Great emulation, I think, would follow from a fair annual estimate of the quality and result of the instruction afforded in every State, emanating from some central authority. I think the District of Columbia might, and ought to be, made a model for every other section of the Union.

“My observations have been entirely confined to the elementary, grammar, high, and normal schools, and institutions for technical instruction; but I have not seen any of your universities or professional colleges, and am unable, even if I were qualified, to give an opinion as to their extent and value.

“While there is so much room for congratulation, there is an immense field remaining unoccupied which cannot be neglected without grievous loss to the nation. I refer to technical, industrial, and art education, which, so far as national and State effort is concerned, seem to have been much neglected. The Cooper Institute of New York, and the Institute of Technology at Boston and Worcester, are bright exceptions. The first I regard as one of the most noble and useful instances of private benevolence I have over encountered. “I remain, dear general, yours faithfully,

"A. J. MUNDELLA." It should be observed that Mr. Mundella speaks only of what came within his notice, in no way intending to express an opinion of other efforts, to which his attention was not called.

education in the British Parliament, as well as numerous private in. quiries from many foreign sources, have sought here national information with regard to education which could not be given. Can the United States afford to lose such opportunities? Is it not better to improve them than to win battles?

But these statements may be said to proceed on the supposition that our country leads the world in all respects in this great work of internal progress. On the contrary, a correct apprehension of the facts will compel us in candor to admit that we have many excellencies to learn; indeed, that some of our greatest educational improvements have been borrowed, and that we need for ourselves a constant observation of all that is done elsewhere in the matter of education, in order that, as promptly as possible, every advantage practicable in our civilization may be secured for the cultivation of our children and the elevation of our people. A newspaper correspondent says, in speaking of the opinion formed by Mr. Mundella of some of our schools, that he thought the Rice school in Boston the best he has ever entered in any country. By contrast he found no school for the poor children in the Freedmen's Village at Arlington, which he visited to-day. Of facilities for art instruction he notes our sad deficiency, Philadelphia, with 600,000 inbabitants, having only a single school of forty, pupils. Small towns in England do much better. Speaking of the great defects of our systems, as irregular attendance, absenteeism, want of uniformity, and lack of supervision, he says that, unless we strike some remedy, England, under her new educational bill, will outstrip us in the education of the masses."

Our entire consular and ministerial service could readily communicate to the State Department a great fund of valuable facts, to be worked up in this Bureau for the use of American educators.*

The accompanying papers give some views of school affairs in the Australian colonies, India, Ecuador, the Argentine Republic, Austria, and England. In the last named the progress is most striking, in every feature, to the American educator.f

* I am specially indebted to the Department of State for coöperation in the conduct of correspondence and exchanges with foreign countries.

+ Under the new education act, passed at the last session of Parliament, the ratepayers of London are to elect a school board by a ballot similar to that by which, in the best regulated parishes, vestrymen and other officials are elected. For the purposes of the election the city is divided into ten parts, each of which will elect a certain number of members, forty-nine in all. Every voter (rate-payer) has as many votes as the number of members to be elected in the district to which he belongs, and may distribute those votes as he pleases. He may, if he has seven votes, distribute them to each of the seven candidates in his district, or he can concentrate them all upon a single candidate, or divide them in any way he chooses. The persons elected form the school board for the metropolis, and will hold their seats until December 1875. They will have power to elect a chairman among themselves, or from outside of the board, and, under the sanction of the education department, they may vote him a salary, though they themselves will be unpaid. This board will for three years have supreme control over the elementary education to be supplied by the taxes, and will have to tako all the first and most important steps for bringing the new system into operation.


To illustrate the foreign demand for information referred to, as well as its extent and character, the following extracts from the files of the office are presented.

From the parliamentary library of the colony of South Australia: Having observed that certain documents have been published under your authority relating to the educational legislation, statistics, &c., of the various States of the Union, I have the honor to request that you will favor me by transmitting copies in duplicate.

From the Secretary of State, transmitting copies of the educational report of the colony of Victoria:

It is assumed that these reports are sent to the Government of the United States with a view to receive in return some of the official publications of the General Government or of the several State governments in relation to the same subject.

From the secretary of the Colonization Society:
I shall be happy to receive your publications for the government of Liberia.

From the minister of the Netherlands to the Secretary of State, (translation:)

The Teachers' Association of the Netherlands has addressed my government, requesting to be put in possession of a collection, as complete as possible, of the laws, regulations, and reports concerning public instruction in foreign countries. I flatter myself that you will be pleased to lend me your assistance, that I may be put in possession of the documents in question, (State, city, and other local reports,) as well as of such as may be at the disposal of the Commissioner of Education.

From the chargé d'affaires of Portugal to the Secretary of State, (translation:)

The ministry of the kingdom of Portugal, desiring to obtain information with regard to public instruction in this country, I have the honor to transmit the inclosed copy designating the points on which information is desired.*

The communications of Mr. Jay, minister to Vienna, are too long to quote. They comprehend three items: 1. The great interest felt by the imperial royal (Austrian) government in the American system of public instruction. 2. The publication by the ministry of education of semi-monthly bulletins of educational information, and a proposed exchange of Austrian documents on the subject for those of this

* This inquiry is very comprehensive, and relates to-
1. Public instruction in general:
a. Organization of public supervision, superintendents, boards, &c.
b. Official reports of the United States and the States published.
2. Superior instruction:

a. Organization, universities, colleges, and professional schools, professorships, courses of instruction, degrees conferred, examinations, text-books, expenses; also, museums libraries, observatories, &c., their organization, expenses, &c.

3. Secondary instruction:
d. Special,
b. Practical,

Organization, instruction, text-books, discipline, appliances, &c. C. Classical, d. Normal.

4. Primary instruction—its organization, graded and ungraded, instruction, discipline, statistics, &c..

country. 3. Requesting complete sets of reports and text-books for this purpose.

The French government (through the Department of State) has also been inquiring for observations and statistics on “ the causes of the mor tality of children of tender age,” in the course of which it comprehends " the rarious modes of their education, the proportion of mortality in the different States, preventive measures initiated,” &c.

Finally, to illustrate the interesting subjects on which this office occasionally receives communications, and which would increase in number with greater facilities for their consideration, the following letter is appended, (translation :) Dr. Poggioli to Hon. E. B. Washburne.

PARIS, June 21, 1870. SIR: A scientific discovery, which was presented to the imperial French academies of science and medicine, has, after a favorablo report, buon practically applied in the superior municipal schools of Paris, (Colbert and Turgot,) by order of the prefect of the Seine. As this discovery has a general interest, I have the honor to make this communication to you that you may, if you see fit, draw the attention of your minister of public instruction to it, with the hope that he may imitate his French colleague, Mr. Duruy, to whom its introduction in the above-mentioned schools is ehietly due. At the time wheu Mr. Duruy resigned his position, this new process was about to be introduced into the lyceum of the Prince Imperial, with the view of making its results known in wider circles.

Your minister of public instruction would only have to select a competent physician to superintend the introduction of this discovery, which consists of nothing but simple cloctric gymnastics, agreeable to the child, altogether harmless, and which can be introduced into every kind of school. The practical results are the following: After a few days' practice a general improvement in the child's health may be noticed, if it has been previously foeble and sickly. The same improvement may be observed in its physical and mental development. After some electric "séances,” (three, on an average,) the child noeds but half the time for studying its lessons, and, if last in the class, it will soon advance to the first rank.

Such results, of incalculablo value for future generations, deserve the attention of every wise and intelligent government.

Hoping that you will give this subject a favorable attention, I remain, with tho most profound respect, your excellency's humble and devoted servant,


Knight of the Legion of Ilonor, Former Inspector of the Stalo 1sylums for the Orphans of 1848, fc. Circular issued by the director of the superior municipal schools of Paris to the parents of scholars in those institutions.

Paris, May 15, 1870. SIR: Dr. Poggioli has been authorized by the government to introduce his system of clectric therapeutics in the superior municipal schools. This system tends to tho bodily and mental development of the child in the same manner as a well-organized system of gymnastics.

The electro-therapeutic treatment of Dr. Poggioli, who has already made successful experiments in several large private establishinents, is not attended with any danger or inconvenience whatsoever.

I have therefore the honor to ask you whother you wish your son to participate in thu electro-gymnastic exorcisos, superintended by Dr. Poggioli in person, assisted by a committee of teachers especially appointed for this purpose.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »