Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dead in the mind's charnel house. Did you ever think of the mind's dead !

Association, like the last trump, may call them from their resting places, # but they slumber for the present.

Rock River is a beautiful stream, and it has apon its banks three of the most promising cities of the West-Janesville, Beloit, and Rockford. I have been spending a week at the last-mentioned city, and I am much de

lighted with its location, scenery, people, advantages, schools, and pros} di pects. I shall confine this letter to a brief view of its public schools and the young ladies seminary.

You know that I have a very high opinion of the graded school system, & hence I shall speak of schools first. There are two here, one in East and o another in West Rockford. I am pleased to know that the river does not - divide the interests in any great public enterprise, though to distinguish

localities the terms east and west are sometimes used. The school on the I

east side is superintended by Prof. O. O. Blackmer. It numbers 549 pupils, and presents a complete theory of graded schools, in active and efficient operation. From the first primary to the high school every thing is progressive, and though the discipline is severe, or, I might better say,

rigid, inside and out, yet an atmosphere of love is seen to pervade every me thing, and is felt by the spectator.

Entering the second primary department, I found all busy in recitation and preparation for the class. Some little boys and girls were talking ¢ from the book.” They stood exactly like men and women, and talked sf while their mates counted to denote the length of time to be given at each

pause. Little fellows can be taught to express the sentiment on the printed

page in a manner that will-yes fascinate. I refer to these schools for the proof of my assertion. Not an individual seemed to look dumpish or dull because he was little and “cooped up." The recitation over, a general exercise in singing was introduced, and they all sung with the same expression and animation. Then another general exercise in addition and numeration, and the life of the recitation was contagious. This exercise was an evidence also that little folks could learn some things that larger ones ought to know, and do it at a time of relaxation. Then came the recess. Two delegates left their seats, proceeded to the doors, stood with

hands upon the knob; a motion, or something else that I could not see or & hear, started the first division, and out they went. The door was opened

for them by the sentinels, and closed immediately, to shut out the noise of

their happy laugh on the play-ground. This was repeated, until the room n I

was vacant. I could not keep away from the play-ground. I wanted to

watch these industrious "little ones” there also. They played as earnestey ly as they worked. These recesses are repeated twice in the forenoon, and the

the same in the afternoon. The teachers who find it so difficult to amuse

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

their primary scholars, and who think the abcdarians of the ages of six and upward are not old enough to commence a discipline that will make them men and women, ought, by all means, to look into the second primary department of Prof. Blackmer's school. The accomplished lady who superintends this room is Mrs. O. J.Wright, and if the true spirit of the teacher ever came below and entered humanity, certainly this lady possesses it.

I entered other rooms and other departments until I had seen the whole picture. It is a picture, and one that I wish all our free people, who hope to perpetuate their liberties, could look upon. There is hope below, be. cause their is a higher seat above for each scholar who will work to merit it, and hope makes them all look upward while they strive. I can not particolarize in regard to the other rooms. They were similar to the best first class graded schools. The citizens have provided ample and beautiful school-rooms for the accommodation of this and the other school, at a cost of about $25,000 each. Let me say here, ihat these two public school buildings, and the seminary and boarding hall may be set down as having cost nearly $100,000. I think that is pretty well for Rockford.

Prof. Blackmer is assisted in the high school by M. S. F. Penfield ; in the grammar department by Miss A. M. Coolidge and Miss Mary E. Bradley. In the intermediate department by Miss L. A. Brown, Miss Julia A. Southgate, and Miss Anna F. Swan. Second primary by the lady mentioned above and Miss Ellen Blackmer; in the first primary by Miss E. J. Grifin and Miss Abby N. Flint, and a more competent corps of teachers I have yet to see. Mr. Blackmer does not teach in any particular department. He appears often in all the departments, and is as likely to be found teaching the alphabet as the powers of x. Thus the services of the expensive teacher are not confined to any class of students, and the discipline is vested in one individaal, who is competent and thorough.

Prof. Lyon, who is the likeness of Prof. Blackmer in teaching, only more so, perhaps, superintends the school on the west side. The discipline is the same, and the grade as aniform. In his school only the most attractive department seems to be the high school. Large scholars (Mr. Editor, what does the term mean, large in intellect or in stature) always give more character to a school, especially if they are inspired with the scholars hope, and none but the true teacher can instill it.

The teachers of this school co-operate heartily in teachers' meetings, and in carrying forward every thing that is new and calculated to benefit the school. There is not much in a name or I would give their appellations also. I have invited all these active and practical teachers to meet with us at Portage City next August, and I know that you and the other members of the committee will second the invitation.

“I come now to speak” of Rockford Female Seminary. I presume I

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

shall add but little, in what I say, to its already well-deserved and abundantly allowed reputation through our State and Illinois, but as I have had an opportunity to observe its influences and examine its practical workings, and am altogether in love with the institution, I shall not forego the pleasure of adding my testimony in regard to its merits.

It is situated on the east bank of Rock River, on an elevated site in the midst of a delightful grove, whose original beauty is still sacredly preserved. This grove not having been molested by art, affords a graced and commodious concert room for the “wild vocalists,” and a retreat for the meditative student, as silent and wild as the most devout could wish, and the general health and bloom of the fair students is an evidence that the breezes which sing among the trees, and assist in unfolding the luxurious charms of nature, is not upappreciated by them,

The soil is light and pebbly, the river passes on the west, only a few rods from the main building, and altogether it is as well situated to make the student contented and happy as any similar institution that it has been my pleasure to visit. A very able

corps of teachers compose the faculty, which is headed by the experienced and accomplished ladies, Miss A. P. Sill and Miss Mary

White. We do not often find all the graces of person or qualities of mind 2

which constitute the model woman in one person, and very seldom in two, but what these two ladies have not, is not worth having. Of the teachers I need not speak. Their being retained in their respective departments is sufficient evidence of their ability and thoronghness. The boarding ball is commodious and pleasant, and all young ladies from abroad are required

to board in the same, unless special arrangements are made otherwise with 1

the officers of the institution. I can not too heartily commend this arrangement. The reason that we advocate the central high school in connection with our common school system, is, that the young ladies and gentlemen when they leave the home circie to attend our foreign schools, begin at once to develop the intrigue and devilty of their natures, while the heart and higher qualities of mind are not awakened. This may seem severe, but a thousand disappointed parents endorse the proposition. I will here quote from the catalogue of this institution, to show why I approve of the plan adopted by it:

* This department is modeled after the well-regalated family; therefore, each member, as a part of her home education, shares in the responsibili

ties of the household, such as every wise parent would appoint, and every be

dutiful daughter perform. The time thus occupied is about one hour per day. This portion of time is so small as not to retard progress in study, but on the contrary, the exercise has a healthful and invigorating inflaence, and also aids in symmetrically developing character, by keeping the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

scholars in the home sphere, and preparing her for the practical duties of life.”

This school is abundantly patronized. The hard times have had bat little influence upon its numbers. Many of Wisconsin's fairest daughters are here preparing to become the mistresses of our glorious State.

I would like to write particularly of Rockford; its beautiful residence and good society. But I have trespassed too long. You may hear from me anon. Yours truly,

A. A, G.


RICHMOND, June 18t, 1858. MR. EDITOR:

:-I am much interested in the perusal of the Journal, particularly as it advocates facts and principles for which I have long contended, and of many of which, suggested to my mind while engaged in teaching in by-gone days, it brings to mind a vivid and distinct recollection. Prominent among these I regard that which relates to the selection for school officers, particularly town superintendents, of those who are not only well qualified in respect to scholar: hip, bat practically acquainted with the business of teaching. The principle to which allusion is here had is one of so much importance to the success and future advancement of our common schools, that it needs to be engraven in some form more tangible and accessible than has hitherto been done, particularly to the people of the rural districts of our State. What individual is there whose mind is ordinarily endowed by nature, that would not, at a glance, see the impropriety of selecting a person entirely unacquainted with any particular branch of manufactures, to exercise a controling supervision over an extensive establishment of this description Equally absurd is it to elect to the responsible office of superintendent of schools, an individual practically unacquainted with the complicated machinery of the youthful mind, and with the business of “teaching the young idea how to shoot.” The absurdity is, in my opinion, jast as palpable in the one case as in the other, though not so observable, from the fact that the highest degree of excellence in teaching requires so rare a combination of talents, and is so seldom attained, that a large proportion of our rural population, having little or no opportunity of seeing it exhibited in the proper training of their offspring, regard it as ordinary in its means and ends, and consequently come very far short of appreciating it properly. Hence an inferior grade of talents and acquirements is adequate to the business of superintending

schools, and hence it occasionally happens, by an accidental concurrence of circumstances, that an individual elected to the office of town superintendent, is required, by the routine of his duty, to exercise & controling supervision over teachers who are far his superiors both in mental and moral culture. Whether such a state of things is the unavoidable result of the practical working of our school system is a point which I shall not

now attempt to decide. One important fact, however, is clearly deducible ti

from the preceding premises, that is, that in order to the accomplishment of the greatest amount of good by the operations of the school system, it is necessary that all the parts of the great body corporated, by which I mean school officers, teachers, and people, should be elevated, mentally and morally, in harmony with each other. Anyjar here creates a rupture in the harmony of the whole.

Although, as has already been intiaated, it is not my present design to discuss the merits of the school system, it is but just to remark that any system is perhaps equally objectionable which does not recognize the cardinal principle that none but practical educators are competent to be entrusted with the superintendency of schools, and whether the system of

town or county superintendency will afford the greater security against ps

the evil complained of, requires the test of experience to decide. There is di one additional item connected with the superintendency of schools to lla

which I will briefly advert, and close this rambling communication. The till visitation of schools I regard as one of the most important and responsible D duties which devolves upon the town superintendent; better, therefore, De be omitted entirely than improperly done. If he is gentlemanly, polite hi and intelligent, as well as active and obliging in the performance of this to particular department of his duty much good will, unquestionably, be the ang result.

If, on the other hand, he enter the school-room with a sort of assumed mir senatorial dignily, and deliver his sentiments in a formal, haughty, or dicim tatorial manner, though he possess the requisite qualifications as to scholar

ship, and though his views may be perfectly just, & prejudice will be con

ceived against him, on the part of both teacher and pupils, which will part to alyze all his efforts in the accomplishment of any durable good.

B. H. STARK. and The

[ocr errors]



[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Toe STRASBURG CLOCK.—Galignani says: “The famous astronomical clock of the Cathedral of Strasburg reproduced, by means of its machinery, with perfect accuracy, the various phases of the recent eclipse of the sun. This clock, as is known, in addition to declaring the time, presents. the heavenly bodies and their movements.”


« НазадПродовжити »