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"If he had only learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more!
'There were five young Gradgrinds, and they were models, every one. No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are!' It had never known wonder on the subject, having at five years dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles' Wain like a locomotive engine driver. No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb. It had never heard of these celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous, ruminating quadruped with several
"Bring to me,' says Mr. McChoakumchild, yonder baby, just able to walk, and I will engage that he shall never wonder.'
"And Gradgrind, as he surveyed the children, seemed a kind of cannon, loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF OUR SCHOOLS.
One distinctive feature of our schools is the general education of the sexes together. I believe that the true deference paid to woman, and the chivalric politeness with which she is treated, and the high standard of morality generally prevailing in the United States, are the results, in no small degree, of educating boys and girls together in the same schools.
Another distinctive feature of our schools is their freedom from sectarian instruction. In most European schools direct religious lessons are given by the clergy of both the Catholic and the Protestant churches; in other words, the schools are made the medium of denominational and sectarian teaching of creeds and catechisms. Happily for their prosperity, and for the best interests of vital religion, our schools are removed from all denominational influences, and the reading of the Bible, without note or comment, affords little occasion for sectarian feeling. All are left free to form their own belief, drawn from the primal source of Christianity.
STATE SCHOOL TAX.
A State tax of half a mill on the dollar has been levied this year for carrying on the work of building up the State Capitol; is it not quite as necessary that the work of building schoolhouses should not be delayed? Of what use will a magnificent State Capitol be, unless educated legislators are sent there to fill it? The State is to be placed on a military footing. It is equally necessary that it should be placed on an educational footing, for educated and intelligent men are a stronger defense than Monitors, Columbiads, or field batteries. During the darkest hour of our national adversity the work upon the dome of the Capitol, at Washington, was carried on with
out cessation, even under the roar of the enemy's cannon—a a fitting type of the faith of the people in the permanence of our Government and the stability of our institutions. Our public schools are not the dome of the Republic, but the solid and everlasting foundations on which is based the permanence and integrity of the nation. We, of this generation, fall back upon the sword and the bayonet to sustain the laws; but if we expect our children to be capable of self-government, if we have not utterly lost our faith in representative institutions, let us not stultify ourselves by failing to educate our children.
We sprang at once into a high degree of civilization; our mines yield immediate and rich returns for labor, and we are unworthy the fairest inheritance the sun shines upon if we do not provide a system of free schools which shall furnish the means of education to every child as liberally as nature has bestowed her mineral wealth upon our land. Shall California, just entering on a renewed career of prosperity from the recent discoveries of fabulous mineral wealth, contribute less for schools than the States where ice and granite take the place of silver and gold? Is the table of ten mills one cent-ten cents one dime-ten dimes one dollar-ten dollars one eagle—the only ten commandments our children shall be taught? Is the national ensign of the Republic, like the calf of molten gold the children of Israel worshiped in the wilderness, to be made a great golden buzzard? Is metal to be valued more than mind, and "feet more than the little brain engines that fill the schoolhouses? Shall we pay thousands of dollars annually for blooded stock, and let the children run wild, like Spanish cattle? Shall we sink costly artesian wells through all our valleys, and keep the living wellsprings of knowledge sealed to the thirsty children? Shall we send to Europe for choice foreign wines, and leave the children to grow up like the wild mustard which covers our fertile lands with its rank growth? Shall millions be expended in constructing a Pacific Railroad, and the State fail to lay the solid foundations of character and intelligence on which rest the permanent prosperity of the generation which will reap the benefits of that great highway of the world? Shall we make every sacrifice of men and money to maintain the Union for a generation unfitted, through want of education, to appreciate either our sacrifices, or the value of the inheritance we leave them?
The effect of our abundant wealth, unless its possessors shall be educated and trained to use it in intellectual pleasures and refined enjoyments, will be to sweep us into the rankest and grossest forms of materialism.
The real wealth of the State must ever be her educated men and intelligent laborers. Educated mind has made the world rich by its creative power. The intelligent minds which invented the steamship, the cotton-gin, and the spinning-jenny, created for the world a wealth greater than the products of the gold mines of Australia and California together. How many millions of dollars is Ericsson's invention of the Monitor worth to the nation? How much the invention of the electric telegraph? How much the hundreds of labor-saving machines in every department of industry? Igno
rance invents none of these. What influence, tell me, is so mighty in developing the intellect of society as the common school? One single great mind, inspired in the public school with a love for learning without which it might have slumbered forever-may prove of more value to the State than the entire cost of schools for half a century.
What influence is so mighty in developing this creative power of society, as the intelligence imparted in the public schools? Go to the Patent Office and find out how many inventions come from the land of common schools, and how many from the States that have failed to establish them.
Not many years ago, a member of the British Parliament urged, as a reason against a system of national instruction, "that if they deprived the farmers of the labor of the children, agriculture could not be carried on, because there was no machinery to get the weeds out of the land."
The policy of New England always has been to send the children to school, and let Yankee ingenuity invent machines "to get the weeds out of the land."
She has "saved" enough by the invention of "machines," contrived by laboring men educated in her schools, to pay for the whole cost of her schools twice told.
An agricultural report says:
"The saving to the country from the improvements in plows alone, within the last twenty-five years, has been estimated at no less than ten millions of dollars a year in the work of teams, and one million in the price of plows, while the aggregate of the crops is supposed to have been increased by many millions of bushels.
The machinery brought into use, since 1816, is estimated to be equal to the labor of five hundred millions of men.
Ignorance never invented a machine to save the labor of a single
The life of the nation lies not in a few great men, not in a few brilliant minds, but is made up of the men who drive the plow, who build the ships, who run the mills, and fill the machine shops, who build the locomotives and steam-engines, who construct the railroads, who delve in the mines, who cast the cannon, who man the ironclads and gunboats, who shoulder the musket, and who do the fighting; these constitute the life and strength of the nation, and it is with all these men that the public schools have done and are now doing their beneficent work. The nation will not be saved by any one great man;' the bone and muscle of intelligent laboring men must work out its salvation. Blundering statesmen may mar the fortunes of the war; general after general may show up his own incompetence; the concentrated and consolidated intelligence of the working men and fighting men will, in the end, prove victorious. When the bayonet has done its work, the ballot-box must protect the freedom won on the battle-field. When every ballot represents an idea, and falls electrified with intelligence to cute a freeman's will," the States will revolve harmoniously around the central sun of a consolidated Union; no star will shoot off in
eccentric orbit into the chaos of disunion, or the cometary darkness and desolation of secession.
Intelligent free laborers are working out the great problem of civilizing this continent; intelligent fighting men are consolidating its Government; and, underlying all, the public schools are silently forming a sound national character. Free as air, vital as electricity and vivifying as the sunlight, they act on the organic forces of the nation, as these three physical agents build up the life of the globe out of inorganic matter.
The insurrection will be put down by the sword and the bayonet; but even then the only strength of the Union will be in a public opinion based on an intelligent comprehension of national affairs by the people of the whole nation.
The number of legal voters in the United States who cannot read and write is greater than the ordinary majority by which a President is elected.
It is seldom the Governor of any State is elected by a majority larger than the number of "illiterate voters of the State." What avails the Constitution at the mercy of men who cannot read it? Unless the laws of the several States are administered by rulers. chosen by electors whose ballots fall vitalized by intelligence, no standing armies, no Constitutions, can hold them in harmonious spheres around the central sun of a Representative Government. They will shoot off in eccentric orbits into the unfathomable darkness of dissolution and chaos, never to return.
It is a Prussian maxim. "Whatever you would have appear in the life of the nation you must put into the schools."
If the schools inculcate with intellectual training love of country, cordial submission to lawful authority, moral rectitude, some knowledge of the theory and organic structure of our Government, and a true spirit of patriotism, then shall our citizens be truly MEN, and our electors princes indeed.
When I consider the power of the public schools, how they have disseminated intelligence in every village, and hamlet, and loghouse in the nation, how they are molding the plastic elements of the next generation into the symmetry of modern civilization, I cannot think that our country is to be included in the long list
"Of nations scattered like the chaff
Blown from the threshing-floor of God.”
I hold nothing in common with those fainthearted patriots who are beginning to despair of the future of our country. The latent powers of the nation are just coming into healthful and energetic action, and in spite of treason, are moving the Republic onward and upward to a higher standpoint of liberty.
The Anglo-Saxon race, even in its ruder years, always possessed an inherent power of self-government. Tell me not that now, when this stubborn vitality and surplus energy, expended so long in overrunning the world, are guided by intelligence and refined by Christianity, this same race is to be stricken with the palsy, because of a two years' war.
Long before the completion of the Pacific Railroad, these new re
cruits, drilled in the public schools, will push their way across the continent, as the Saxons set out from their northern hives, a vast army of occupation, cultivating the "National Homestead," and fortifying the whole line of communication by a cordon of schoolhouses that shall hold it forever as the heritage of free labor, free men and a free nation.
"So shall the Northern pioneer go joyful on his way,
To wed Penobscot's waters to San Francisco's Bay!
To make the rugged places smooth, to sow the vales with grain,
And bear, with Liberty and Law, the Bible in his train;
The mighty West shall bless the East, and sea shall answer sea,
3. METHODS OF TEACHING.*
The common schools are established by law, for the purpose of affording to all the children in the State the means of obtaining a good education, at the public expense. Their design is to have knowledge as common among the people, as are water, air, and the sunlight. They are planted deep in the affections of the people. Their importance cannot be overstated. Any attempt to improve them, or to render them more useful, deserves the encouragement of every good citizen. I understand that the object of this Institute, composed of teachers from various parts of the State, is to interchange views in relation to the great cause of education, in order to assist one another in the practice of their profession.
So much has been written upon the subject of education, that it would seem to have been exhausted long ago. Yet it is, in fact, as inexhaustible as human nature. It comprehends and applies to all men, from the cradle to the grave, under all circumstances, and with all their varieties and peculiarities of character. It endeavors to ascertain the true and philosophical system of human culture, to point out the best methods of teaching, of maintaining good order, of preserving the health, and of developing all the faculties in the natural order, so as to produce the best results for the individual and the community.
The object of the present meeting is more specifically to improve, in every possible manner, the condition of the common schools of this State. We wish to render these fountains, at which the great mass of the people drink, as pure and invigorating as possible.
My purpose is then to take some of the ordinary branches taught in the common schools, and to state what I think the best methods of giving instruction in them. Before doing so, however, let me present a few general considerations.
Although the practice of teaching must have begun in Paradise (indeed, according to the pious legends of the Rabbins, Adam was not only the first man, but also the first schoolmaster, aided by Enoch, I suppose, as his first assistant), yet it is nearly certain that no great improvements were generally effected in the art of teaching, and that there never was known such a thing as the philosophy of teaching, until the institution of common schools, and, in point * Read before the State Teachers' Institute, 1861, by George W. Minns.