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and Chemistry, so far, at least, as would enable them, in the preservation of their health, and in the pursuits of active life, to coöperate with, rather than contravene, the uniform and established laws of nature;--and of Astronomy, to an extent that would enable them to understand, and explain to others, the causes of day and night,--the ebb and flow of the tides, the succession of the seasons, -eclipses,--the northern lights,--and even of a comet, or a meteoric shower, if one should be visible, --without supposing that the world was coming to an end,-or that any other dire calamity was about to ensue.
To this amount they inust add such a knowledge of the duties of an American citizen, and of the structure of our own and other governments, as will lead to a just appreciation of the excellencies and defects of our own political system, and of the untiring vigilance necessary to its preservation;—as will enable them, on all occasions, to exert a conservative influence,-and, especially at the ballot box, where every true patriot should be found, and where the dearest rights of millions often bang on the casting of a single vote,-to throw their weight into the right scale,—to exert their influence on the right side of every question. I am fully aware of the comparative sinallness of the amount of knowledge here represented as indispensable;—that it is less than the amount required by statute, in many of the States, to be taught in the public schools;—and that no teacher can be faithful who does not hold up before his pupils an amount equally large and various as the minimum, the least quantity for which they ought to be contented to strive; since there is not a particle of it that can be omitted without serious detriment.
But, says an objector, all cannot be scholars. Very true,--and we are not advocating universal scholarship; --that is a very different affair;—but only for an amount of knowledge and mental discipline, without which no man can walk the earth as a man, and, in this country, perform a tithe of the duties which devolve upon bim, and from the responsibilities of which he cannot divest himself. Times have changed, and we ought, in some respects, to change with them. The man is now living, and has lectured before this Institute, who, upon taking charge of a school on the banks of the Hudson, was obliged to prepare his own manuals and class books, for the good reason that there were none to be purchased. Now, the number of different works, all of them possessing various degrees of merit, and many of them excellent, in use in the schools of a single State, is almost countless.
A good book, it is well known, once cost as much as a good house, and its purchase and delivery were attended with quite as much formality and legal ceremony and exactness, as the sale and transfer of real estate. Nor was this all. The few who had sufficient wealth to purchase books, and were anxious to do so, were not always able to find them. Prepared with great labor and expense by the slow process of transcription, they were kept with proportionate care and privacy, and many a man passed a long life without ever seeing a book. But now there issues daily from a single press in the city of New York, one million, eight hundred thousand pages. I know not how to illustrate the greatness of the quantity better than by saying, that if the words were placed in a continuous line, as upon an ordinary page, they would extend about twenty-five hundred miles, and that every ten days they would encircle the globe!
It is manifestly absurd therefore to say, that, because there is no royal road to learning, the increased facilities for acquiring knowledge are of little value;—that a more thorough and extensive knowledge of Geography, for example, ought not to be required, now that globes are the ordinary playthings of the nursery, and maps and charts are found in nearly every family,—than when teachers were so little used 10 the siglot of them, that the very intelligent principal of one of the best academies then existing in our country, upon being asked by a student of what use a map of the world was that he had found inserted in his Geography,—replied that it was of no use whatever, but only a picture put in to make the book sell. Every faithful teacher will strive to take advantage of all that is really useful and excellent in this rising tide, to place each succeeding class of his pupils, like the succeeding waves of the incoming ocean, upon higher, and still higher ground. The intellectual standard cannot be too elevated, --so that all can reach it.
“But,” continues the objector, “here will be labor lost. Why aim at so high a standard, at acquiring so much knowledge, little as you call it,—and this too for shepherds, and planters, and merchants, and men in the ordinary walks of life? It will disqualify them for their business.”
Their business! wliat is their business? who can tell what is their business before they are called to it? We have no privileged classes in this country. All avęnues are open, and in this respect, all things are comthe Union. A residence in a log cabin, beyond the Alleghanies, is found to be no insuperable objection. Our planter at the South, or the merchant, may be called to represent his country at foreign courts,----and to contend with the best educated minds in the world; for in civilized life, battles are bloodless now,--the pen of the diplomatist, rather than the sword of the warrior, is the arbiter of national destiny. Our son of the Ocean may not always be satisfied with rowing the long boat; he may prefer to walk the quarter deck, and attain the highest honors in his profession. While our son of New England -and what shall we say of him, to whom all lands are tributary,—to whom every office is open,-every court familiar;-whose canvass whitens every sea, -whose flag floats in every breeze, --whose elastic step has surmounted every height, and penetrated every valley, till we are in truth become universal nation?" If such be the high destinies that await our pupils, is it wise, is it faithful in us to aim at a less amount of knowledge, or a less perfect intellectual discipline? Is it not attainable? With the blessing of Heaven upon our efforts, shall it not be attained through our instrumentality?
Our shepherd on the western prairie, may become the Governor of his State, or the President of
3. To secure the proper moral and religious training of our pupils is doubtless the most difficult, as it is conceded to be the most important of the duties of the faithful teacher. His two strongest resources lie in appealing to the consciences of his pupils, and to the revealed will of their Maker. “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest,”-was the home appeal of that fearless and faithful teacher, Paul. The fact that in most schools there are pupils of different Christian denominations, or some, perhaps, who profess
Christianity in no form, though it may render proper instruction more difficult and require the teacher to be peculiarly circumspect, that he may do good only, and not evil,—will by no means preclude the possibility of giving the requisite instruction on these subjects, nor excuse a teacher for the neglect of this duty. It may be proper to state that for many years past I have had the care of pupils of almost every shade of religious belief and disbelief;—and yet I have never found any difficulty in appealing to them as sinners before God, and urging them through the merits and intercession of an offered Saviour, to seek for pardon and eternal lise; to urge a strict adherence to truth in word, thought, and action; the practice of mutual kindness,-respect for the aged; obedience to parents, and all rightful authority; the proper observance of the Sabbath, and strict temperance in all things. I have never yet found the parent who objected to this amount of moral and religious instruction, -or who did not regard it of more importance to the present and future well-being of his child, to have virtuous principles inculcated and correct habits established, than to have him furnished with any specified amount of mere knowledge.
I ought,” said a teacher, who had entirely neglected this part of his duty,—“I ought to pay some attention to the morals of my pupils. Two of them have been hung for murder, and another has shot his man.” If with an angel glance we could look forward down the stream of time, and see all the dangers and temptations to which our pupils will inevitably be exposed; if we could see the strong tide of avarice, and passion, and ambition, that sweeps on with a cataract's force, hurling