Изображения страниц

forms whose materials can be gathered back into boxes. They desire to do something which will remain fixed. Froebel's method meets this instinct with materials for making permanent forms by drawing, sewing, modeling, &c.

The stick-laying is the best possible preparation for drawing, for it trains the eye, leaving the children to learn the manipulation of the pencil only, and this is again made easy by having the slates and paper ruled in eighths or tenths of an inch, that the pencil of the child may be guided while the hand is yet unsteady, for Froebel would never have the child fail of doing perfectly whatever he undertakes, and this is effected by making him begin with something easy, and proceeding by a minute gradualism. He would also train the eye to symmetry by never allowing him to make a crooked line, just as the ear is trained in musical education by never making a false note. Beside the drawing, which is carried to quite a wonderful degree of beauty, invented even by children under seven years old, pricking of symmetrical forms may be done by means of the same squared paper; and again, pricked cardboard may be sewed with colored threads, teaching barmonies of color. Also another variety of work is made by weaving into slitted paper of one color strips of other colors, involving not only the harmonizing of colors, but the counting and arrangement for symmetrical effect, which gives a great deal of mental arithmetic, while the folding of paper with great exactness in geometrical forms, and unfolding it to make little boats, chairs, tables, and what the children call flowers, gives concrete geometry and the habit of calculation.

A lady who traveled in Europe to study Froebel's Kindergartens brought home from Dresden the whole series of work done by a class of children who began at three years old and continued till seven; and no one has seen it without being convinced that it must have educated the children that did it, not only to an exquisite artistic manipulation, which it is very much harder to attain later, but to habits of attention that would make it a thing of a short time to learn to read, write, and cipher, and enable them to enter into scientific education, and use books with the greatest advantage, as early as eight years old.

Callisthenics, ball-plays, and plays symbolizing the motions of birds, beasts, pretty human fancies, mechanical and other labors, and exercising the whole body, are alternated with the quieter occupations, and give grace, agility, animal spirits, and health, with quickness of eye and touch, together with an effect on the mind, their significance taking the rudeness out, and putting intelligence into the plays, without destroying the fun. The songs and music which direct these exercises are learned by rote, and help to gratify that demand for rhythm which is one of the mysteries of buman nature, quickening causal power to its greatest energy, as has been proved, even in the education of idiots, by the almost miraculous effects upon them of the inusical gymnastics, which are found to wake to some self-consciousness and enjoyment even the saddest of these poor victims of malorganization. All Froebel's exercises are characterized by rhythm; for the law of combining opposites for symmetrical beauty makes a rhythm to the eye, which perhaps has even more penetrative effect on the intellectual life than music.

If true education, as Froebel claims, is this conscious process of development, bodily and mental, corresponding point by point with the unconscious evolutions of matter, making the human life an image of the divine creativeness, every generation owes tó the next every opportunity for it. In this country, whose prodigious energies are running so wild into gambling, trade and politics, threatening us with evils yet unheard of in history, it may be our national salvation to employ them in legitimate, attractive work, for production of a beauty and benefit that also has been yet unheard of in history; and this can best be done by preventing that early intellectual perversion and demoralization, with waste of genius and moral power, entailed on us by the inadequate arbitrary modes of primary discipline which now taint all subsequent education.

But the indispensable preliminary of this new primary discipline are competent teachers, who can be had only by special training. What is at once delightful play and earnest work to the children, requires, in those who are superintending it, not only a knowledge of the laws and processes of vital growth, which are analogous, if not identical, in nature and art, but the science of infant psychology also. These things are not intrinsically difficult of attainment; and it is easier, if the teacher has been trained to it, to keep a Kindergarten, according to the strict principle of Froebel, than to keep an ordinary primary school in the ordinary manner, because nature helps the former with all her instincts and powers, while the latter is a perpetual antagonism and struggle with nature for the repression of a more or less successful chronic rebellion.

The best Kindergarten normal school in the world is that founded by the Baroness Marenholtz-Bulow, in Berlin, where she lectures gratuitously herself on the philosophy of the method, and its relations to “the regeneration of mankind,” (to use her own phrase,) and the pupils have instruction from professors in many branches of science and art, while they go to observe and practice several times a week in Madame Vogler's Kindergarten. But Americans, who have had our usual normal or high school education, or its equivalent, if they are fairly gifted and educated, genial, sweet-tempered, and candid, can obtain the special training in a six months' diligent course, and the more surely the more they have the grace of a wise humility. What it took Froebel, with all his heart and genius, a half century of study and experimenting to elaborate, it would seem at first could not be learned in so short a time. But it must be remembered that the more profound and complete the truth, the more easily can it be comprehended, when once fairly stated. It took a Newton to discover the principia naturæ; and a Copernicus to replace the complicated Ptolemean, by nature's solar system; but any child of twelve years old can comprehend and learn them, now they are discovered. Froebel's authority inheres in his being a self-denying interpreter of nature, the only absolute authority, (nature being God's word.) As Edgar Quenet said in 1865, in a letter to the Baroness Marenholtz-Bulow, after remarking that Froebel "sees the tree in the germ; the infinitely great in the infinitely small; the sage and

; great man in the cooing babe;" and "his method therefore is that of nature herself, which always has reference to the whole, and keeps the end in view in all the phases of development,” comparing him to "the three wise men from the East who placed the treasures of nature in the hands of the heavenly Child"--and the statement is worthy of all attention—“ It is certain that the results of this method can only he attained if it is applied according to the principles of the discoverer. Without this, the best conceptions of Froebel must be falsified, and turned against his aim; mechanism alone would remain, and would bring back teacher and pupil into the old traces of routine.” As yet there is but one Kindergarten normal school in America, which is a private one in Boston, kept by Mrs. Kriege and her daughter, pupils and missionaries of the Baroness MarenholtzBulow, who is the chief apostle of Froebel in Europe. In another year these ladies will be connected with the public normal school of New York City, as I understand liberal offers are made to them by the public school authorities. Preparations are also making for model Kindergartens, and professorships therewith connected, at several of the normal institutions of the West. These are in place in every female college and high school for girls; the training not only insuring a delightful profession that must always be in demand, but making the best education for mothers, as all women are liable to become personally or virtually. Possibly the appreciation of Froebel's science and art may prove the true solution of what is called the woman question. Teaching is the primal function of humanity, and women now feel it to be repugnant toil only because the true art has never before been discovered. When it becomes a fine art it will become for the teacher, like any other fine art, self-development and the highest enjoyment; for it is nothing short of taking part in the creativeness of God.

There is in training at Mrs. Kriege's school in Boston a lady of great ability, who purposes to make a model Kindergarten at the normal school of Hampton, Virginia, as a basis for training the freed women for teachers of Kindergarten. The lyrical and artistic nature of the colored race will make them apt scholars and successful teachers, and this may become a place for training children's nurses in Froebel's nursery art. This great reformer founded a school for this purpose in Hamburg in 1850, which supplies (but not fully) a continual demand made upon it by the nurseries of England, as well as Germany; and a few American mothers have availed themselves of thé blessing of this educated help, which all mothers need who have other social duties.

But the immediate desideratum is a free national school to supply Kindergarten education to the schools of the District of Columbia, the Territories, and the South, to be located in the District, or perhaps in Richmond, Virginia, where some of the “ten thousand southern ladies," who signed the pathetic petition to Mr. Peabody to found for them an industrial school, might learn this beautiful art, and be made able to initiate in their beloved South a higher, more refined, and also more complete system of education than has ever obtained in any country. It has been ascertained that an eminent Kindergartner in Europe, now in full employ, but willing to leave all to do this thing in the United States, may be secured for five years, for $3,000 a year, finding all the apparatus and materials herself. Cannot this be had from some one of our munificent public benefactors ?



HEBREW EDUCATION. . It is safe to assert that, although the Israelites are of all nationalities, and scattered promiscuously over the face of the world, they are the only people who can be fairly classed as universally educated. There may be a few who cannot read or write, but this number is insignificant. Indeed, it is asserted by those who claim to know, that no Israelite can be found who cannot read or write, if not in their modern or domiciliary language, certainly in the Hebrew. If there are any thus in default, they may be found principally in London, or in other large cities of Great Britain, where, from degraded associations, they have been outcast from the society of their own people.

The education of the Hebrews is the growth of three thousand years, and is incul. cated in their religion, based upon the Mosaic law. Hence it is hereditary, and to this inheritance of their forefathers they have been ever attached with unswerving fidelity, consecrating to education every sacrifice in their power, and placing its accomplishment first in their estimate of spiritual and worldly affairs. A treatise upon the education of the Hebrews necessarily involves a cursory review of their history prior to and since the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus, which latter event made them absolute wanderers upon the face of the earth.

The first Biblical mention of the Hebrew thirst for knowledge is when the Israelites, escaped from Egyptian bondage, sought instruction from Moses. This, attracting the attention of Jethro, his father-in-law, caused him to give to Moses the well known advice: “And thou shalt teach them ordinances, and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do."-(Exodus, c. xviii, v. 20.) Thereupon, Moses and the priesthood devoted themselves to the instruction of thé Israelites in the decalogue, and in the numerous minor laws of theocratic education and government; the moral lessons of which were then continually taught to children by their parents, and are still brought, in the same manner, to the notice of Hebrew youth to this very hour.

Though riven and broken piecemeal, and scattered in every clime, it is worthy of remark that, notwithstanding the Hebrews have domiciled as well in barbarous as in civilized countries, their habits, observances, language, and religion have remained intact and undisturbed, while their education in all the sciences and arts has constantly progressed and never retrograded. As chronicled by the encyclopedists, “they began as nomads, migrating from nation to nation, from state to state; their law made them agriculturalists for fifteen centuries; their exile has transformed them into a mercantile people. They have struggled for national existence against the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Syrians, and Romans, have been conquered and nearly exterminated by all these powers, and have survived them all."

The education of the ancient Hebrews was entirely derived from the laws of Moses, which is, even now, with the exception of the national part, their general moral code. It is conceded by all writers that the aims of the Mosaic law “ were the moral perfection of the individual and the welfare of society." Reasoning from this standpoint, it is only necessary to call attention to the books comprising the Old Testament to prove the advanced literary culture of the Hebrews, even in that remote age, which has never been excelled in modern times, or perhaps even equalled.

It is estimated that over one million Jews perished in defending Jerusalem from the Romans, and, according to Josephus, they continually rose in revolt during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, until their persecutions became so fearful that insurrections were forbidden by their leaders, simply on the score of religion and humanity. Whereupon Hadrian bnilt the Ælia Capitolina upon the site of Jerusalem, and a decree was made forbidding the Jews from entering its precincts.

Notwithstanding large numbers of Jews had been enslaved or exiled, and scattered on both sides of the Pyrenees, on the Rhine and the Danube, Palestine still continued to be a species of national center, and maintained schools of religious science under the leadership of most eminent teachers. But these schools were destroyed at different periods in the fourth and fifth centuries. The two talmuds, (studies,) Palestinian and Babylonian, were, however, preserved in a necessarily mutilated condition. Other literary productions of this era were also preserved, consisting of ethical treatises, historical, legendary, and cosmogonal writings, stories, prayers, and paraphases of Seriptural books.

In the seventh century, however, Mohammed conquered the independent Arabian Jews, who were an extremely cultivated people, and Omar subsequently subdued Persia, Jerusalem, and the other Byzantine possessions, which placed the eastern Jews under the rule of a people of Semitic origin like themselves. The government of the Caliphs being comparatively mild, and favorable to science, (indeed the Koran itself commanding the study of its own precepts,) the literature of the Hebrews revived; and from the seventh to the tenth centuries, numbers of eminent scholars, theologians, poets, and linguists, were brought into public notice. Many works were composed, treating of every species of science, embracing law, medicine, astronomy, languages, and all the fine arts.

The standard authorities on education admit that the theocratic constitution of the Hebrews and the foundation of their politics and ethics on religion has produced a better culture, mental and moral, in literature, than that of any other people. Their ancient education was far in advance of the Chinese and the Hindoos, for, in every lesson taught the Hebrew youth, is inculcated the sublimest virtues, among which may be enumerated charity, gratitude, obedience, and respect to the commands of parents, politeness and cleanliness, all coupled with extreme reverence for the Almighty. It will be remembered, also, that in contradistinction to other Oriental people, many female poets and learned women figure in the history of the ancient Jews.

The instruction of the Jewish youth by the Rabbins, in tho schools instituted after

[ocr errors]

the exile, comprised study in the scriptures, the commentaries and traditions, the Mishna and Gemara, (Talmud,) which was imparted orally, and committed to memory without notes. It is known among the Hebrews that the Mishna, or prose writings, had long been transmitted from master to pupil before it was committed to writing in the shape of parchment or book. In this manner the memory had always been, and now is, especially cultivated in Hebrew education, and hence they excel in mnemonics.

Education with the Hebrews (as urged by the late Dr. Raphael) is the air they breathe, and without it existence is of little value. Every Hebrew is compelled, in addition to the usual education necessary to carry on the pursuits of life, to acquire some knowledge of the Hebrew, so that he may participate in the manifold observances of his religion, and obtain an insight into the literature and language of his forefathers. According to the traditions of the Rabbins, says Dr. Raphael, public schools existed before the Deluge, and it is asserted that Adam was not only the first man, but the first schoolmaster, assisted in his labors by Enoch, and succeeded by Noah. After the Deluge, Shem established and presided over a public school, and his great-grandson, Eber, taught the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob.

It is also understood that, by reason of the exemption of the tribe of Levi from hard labor during the Egyptian captivity, they were permitted to study and devote themselves to education. Certain it is that writing was known and practiced commonly at that era, and in Exodus, the first biblical mention is made of writing by the command to Moses that he should " write these laws." The Pentateuch, however, does not relate or divulge any general system of education adopted, and it therefore follows that education was looked upon as purely a religious duty, and as such intrusted to the Levites and priests. Samuel founded the “schools of the prophets," which were open to all Israelites; and although little is known of their internal polity and system of education, it is certain that the Hebrews were trained in this school to be teachers, public orators, poets, and composers of sacred music.

These schools flourished and exercised great influence upon the Hebrews. They, however, disappeared with the fall of the Hebrew monarchy, and it was only after their return from Babylonish exile that the priests resumed their duties as instructors of the people. The priest Ezra, and the “men of the great assembly," over which he presided, reëstablished everywhere the schools of Samuel, and were aided in the instruction of the people by the sopherim or scribes. Every Judean town containing a certain number of inhabitants was bound to maintain a primary school, the hazan, or reader of the synagogue, usually teaching. Seminaries of higher grades were presided over by the sopherim, and a certain portion of the public revenue set apart for a school fund devoted thereto. These schools flourished wherever they were founded, particularly in Egypt, and chiefly at Alexandria, and two hundred years before the Christian era the “Septuagint” was translated from Hebrew into Greek by Judeans.

When the Jewish schools and colleges had been destroyed by the Roman conquerors of Jerusalem, a new seat of learning was founded at Tiberias, which being recognized by the Romans, flourished and maintained influence among the Jews until the fifth century, when it declined, having, however, compiled the Mishna, or Jewish commercial law. Meantime the Babylonian schools at Sura, Pumbeditha, and Nahaidea, near the Euphrates, had eclipsed the Roman Hebrew school, and being endowed liberally, were visited by Jewish students from every part of the world. Here the Babylon Talmud, in twelve large folio volumes, the work of sixty years, was completed under the supervision of the chiefs of the schools," known as the Rishi Methibta. In the eleventh century, however, the caliphs seized on the endowments and closed the schools.

From the seventh to the tenth century the Hebrews suffered every vicissitude and persecution, sometimes meeting partial encouragement, and then being driven away to other countries. During this period, however, notwithstanding the disadvantages. under which they labored, they still continued to advance education and to foster the arts and sciences. In the Italian provinces they frequently received encouragement from the Popes, and Otranto and Bari became the principal seats of Jewish learning, and their cultivated literature spread from thence into France and Germany.

In no country, however, did the Hebrews enjoy more prosperity than in Spain under the Moorish kings, who carried with their conquest culture and science. Persecutions became rare, and indeed exceptional, and, appreciating the learning of the Hebrews, the Saracen rulers encouraged their literature, permitted them to enjoy civil rights, and advanced them to the highest dignities. They founded schools in which science, the Talmud and the philosophy of Aristotle were taught, and excelled in lexicography, astronomy, ethics, geography, philosophy, law, medicine, music, painting, poetry, and in all the sciences; and in the twelfth century, the diffusion of learning among the Jews obtained its height in Europe, as well as in Egypt. The great philosopher, Maimonides, who surpassed all cotemporaries as a law-writer, (and who has been classed as next only to Moses, the prophet,) having been made subject to certain unwarrantable persecutions at Cordova, fled from Spain into Egypt, where he was kindly received and employed by the Sultan. The number of eminent Hebrew scholars domiciling in Spain

[ocr errors]

during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries was large, notwithstanding that they were frequently subjected to terrible persecutions from time to time.

In 1391, (to which allusion has been made by Mr. Parton, in the Atlantic Monthly for October, 1870,) 3,500 Jewish families were murdered at Seville, on account of a long drought, which was, through ignorance and superstition of the surrounding people, visited in punishment upon them. Throughout every part of Europe, notwithstanding their culture and education, they were subjected to massacre and exile. In England, during the reigns of Richard I, John, and Henry III, they suffered terribly, and were expelled from the realm in 1290, by Edward I.

Describing this condition of affairs as chronicled by historians, it is universally agreed that “throughout Germany their condition was deplorable; that they were circumscribed in their rights by unjust decrees and laws, civil and ecclesiastic; excluded from all honorable occupations ; driven from place to place, from province to province; compelled to subsist almost exclusively by mercantile occupations and usury; overtaxed and degraded in the cities; kept in narrow and unhealthy quarters, and marked in their dress with signs of contempt; plundered by lawless barons and penniless princes; an easy prey to all parties during the civil feuds; again and again robbed of their pecuniary claims; owned and sold as serfs; butchered by mobs; burned in thousands by the crusaders; and tormented by ridicule, monstrous accusations, threats, and trials. The condition of the Jews of those countries offer, in their mediæval history, a frightful picture of horror and gloom.” Well may they have cried : “How long, O God, are we to bear these things!"

They were banished from France by Charles VI, in 1395, and extirpated from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492, by the force of the terrible Inquisition. These terrorisms continued until the consummation of the peace of Westphalia, in 1648; and from that time the greater persecutions of the Jews ceased. But, although the Hebrews spread and flourished subsequently in other parts of Europe, and emigrated to America with the Dutch and English, yet in Germany and Switzerland the worst features of the mediæval treatment of the Jews were continued and maintained. It was not until 1848, after the German revolution, that the Hebrews were admitted to civil rights, taxed equally, and permitted the free exercise of professions and occupations, even in those localities where the American public has always supposed liberality and justice made their abiding places.

In other parts of Europe, schools exclusively for the Talmud were maintained, and they still flourish in some parts of Germany and in Poland. Indeed, the Polish rabbins are considered to be the deepest thinkers and most abstruse talmudical scholars in Europe. The exiled Spanish Jews migrated in large numbers to Holland, where they maintained influential and flourishing schools; but latterly these Jewish schools naturally became amalgamated with the modern system prevailing in this century through Germany, Italy, and France.

An examination of Hebrew education presents six post-biblical developments : First, the schools of the Sopherim ; second, the schools of the Mishna; third, the schools of the Talmud; fourth, the scientific schools of Spain ; fifth, the exclusive talmudic schools of France, Germany, and Poland; and sixth, the modern schools of Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, and America.

It is literally true, as related by Mr. Parton, that, “in the night of superstition, no Jew could own or hold land on endurable conditions in any country of Christendom. Nor could he belong to any guild of mechanics, and hence he could not himself be a mechanic, nor apprentice his son to a mechanic. He could not enter a university or a preparatory school in any country; and so the liberal professions were closed to him.” All intelligent minds must appreciate the difficulties under which the Hebrews have labored in promoting education among themselves, and that, therefore, too high an estimate cannot be placed upon their culture and their accomplishments.

There can be no question of the fact that liberty, as exemplified in the successful establishment of this Republic, with its liberal Constitution, first gave birth to European Jewish freedom. As the experiment of free government and the equal and impartial execution of the laws were submited to the infallible test amid the jeers and jibes of monarchical Europe, the transatlantic Hebrews looked longingly and lovingly to our happier shores. In their synagogues, in their schools, as well as in their private circles, they fervently and secretly prayed that the United States Government might be perpetuated, so that they could find therein safe asylum, and that other nations might be influenced, by the glorious example of freedom, to better and nobler things. Those Hebrews who had migrated to America with the English and Dutch actively sympathized with and aided the patriots of the Revolution in throwing off the yoke of Great Britain, and our archives show that many of them contributed Jarge sumns of money, literally impoverishing themselves, to help in feeding, clothing, and arming the revolutionary army, not a dollar of which appears ever to have been reimbursed by the Government to them or their heirs. Many of them fought in the ranks of the revolutionary patriots, claiming it to be their privilege to do or die in the cause of the civil and religious liberty of America.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »