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prosent, Sunday is a day of general leave of absence, and on Thursday afternoon individual permissions are freely granted by the director of studies.
This institution occupies the same rank with those attached to some of the Prussian universities, and intended to prepare masters for the gymnasia. It has an advantage over them in the spirit produced by the greater numbers of its pupils, and by the closer connection with the school, which results from their studying and residing within its walls. It is, in turn, inferior to the seminaries for secondary teachers at Berlin, in the absence of arrangements for practical teaching, and in even a more important respect, namely, the want of that religious motive of action which forms the characteristic of the Prussian system. The deficiencies of this great school, in regard to both religious and practical education, struck me, I must confess, very forcibly.*
* In the general tenor of the foregoing remarks, I have the sanction of M. Cousin, in the prof ace to his account of the Normal School, already referred to.
VIII PUBLIC INSTRUCTION IN SWITZERLAND.
The following general outline of the educational institutions of Switzerland, will be found to contain not only an interesting notice of the Normal Schools of that country, but also valuable hints respecting the compulsory attendance of children at school, and school inspection, as well as the relations of education to pauperism. It is abridged from a recent work by Joseph Kay, published by J. Hatchard and Son, London, 1846, entitled “ The Education of the poor in England and Europe."
“ Perhaps of all countries Switzerland offers the most instructive lesson to any one investigating educational systems and institutions. It is divided into twenty-two independent cantons, each of which manages its own internal policy after its own peculiar views; so that the educational systems of the several cantons differ very materially, whilst the federal government which unites all, brings all into intimate connection one with another, and facilitates improvement, as the institutions which are found to work best are gradually adopted by all the different governments. Each canton being acquainted with the systems pursued by the others, the traveler is enabled, not only to make his own observations on the various results, but is benefited also by the conversation of men accustomed to compare what is being done by their own government with what is being done by others, and to inquire into the means of perfecting their educational systems.
But the advantage to be derived from an investigation of the various efforts made by the different cantons, is still further increased by the fact of their great difference in religious belief. Thus, the population of the canton of Vaud, for example, is decidedly Presbyterian, -that of Lucerne is almost exclusively Roman Catholic, whilst those of Argovia and Berne are partly Protestant and partly Roman Catholic. Not only, therefore, does the traveler enjoy the advantage of studying the educational systems of countries professing different religious creeds, but the still greater one of witnessing the highly satisfactory solution of the various difficulties arising from differences of religious belief existing under the same government.
The great development of primary education in Switzerland, dates from 1832 or 1833, immediately after the overthrow of the old aristocratical oligarchies. No sooner did the cantonal governments become thoroughly popular, than the education of the people was commenced on a grand and liberal scale, and from that time to this, each year has witnessed a still further progress, until the educational operations of the several governments have become by far their most weighty and important duties.
Throughout all the cantons, with the exception of Geneva, Vallais, and
three small mountainous cantons on the Lake of Lucerne, where the population is too scanty and too scattered to allow of the erection of many schools, education is compulsory; that is, all parents are required by law to send their children to school from the age of six to the age of fourteen, and, in several cantons, to the age of sixteen. The schoolmasters in the several communes are furnished with lists of all the children in their districts, which are called over every morning on the assembling of school; the absentees are noted, and also the reasons, if any, for their absence; these lists are regularly examined by the inspectors, who fine the parents of the absentees for each day of absence.
In some of the manufacturing districts, the children are permitted to leave school and enter the mills at the age of eleven, if they have then obtained from the inspectors a certificate of being able to read and write; but they are obliged to attend a certain number of periodical lessons afterward, until they attain the age of fourteen or fifteen. In the canton of Argovia, however, which is one of the manufacturing districts of Switzerland, the children are not allowed to enter the mills until they attain the age of thirteen, and I was assured by several of the manufacturers of this canton, that they did not suffer any inconvenience from this regulation, although it had been warmly opposed at first by the commercial men.
It ought to be remembered, that these laws are enforced under the most democratic forms of government.
The people themselves require attendance at the schools, so conscious are they of the necessity of education to the encouragement of temperance, prudence, and order...
In the cantons of Berne, Vaud, Argovia, Zurich, Thurgovia, Lucerne, and Schaffhouse, where this law is put into force most stringently, it may be said with truth, that all the children between the ages of seven and fifteen are receiving a sound and religious education. This is a most charming result, and one which is destined to rapidly advance Switzerland, within the next eighty years, in the course of a high Christian civilization. One is astonished and delighted, in walking through the towns of the cantons I have mentioned, to miss those heart-rending scenes to be met with in every English town; I mean the crowds of filthy, half-clothed children, who may be seen in the back streets of any of our towns, groveling in the disgusting filth of the undrained pavements, listening to the lascivious songs of the tramping singers, witnessing scenes calculated to demoralize adults, and certain to leave their impress on the susceptible minds of the young, quarreling, swearing, fighting, and in every way emulating the immorality of those who bred them. There is scarcely a town in England and Wales whose poorer streets, from eight in the morning until ten at night, are not full of these harrowing and disgusting scenes, which thus continually show us the real fountain-head of our demoralized pauperism. In Switzerland nothing of the kind is to be seen. The children are as regularly engaged in school, as their parents are in their daily occupations, and henceforward, instead of the towns continuing to be, as in England, and as they have hitherto been in Switzerland, the hot-beds and nurseries of irreligion, immorality, and sedition, they will only afford still more favorable opportunities, than the country, of advancing the religious, moral, and social interests of the children of the poor. How any one can wonder at the degraded condition of our poor, after haring walked through the back streets of any of our towns, is a thing I never could understand. For even where there are any schools in the town, there are scarcely ever any playgrounds annexed to them; so that in the hours of recreation the poor little children are turned out into the streets, to far more than forget all the moral and religious counsel given o the school. It is strange that we do not understand how invaluable the refuge is, which a school and playground afford to the children of the poor, however indifferent the education given in the school.
This small country, beautified but impoverished by its Alpine ranges, containing a population* less than that of Middlesex, and less than onehalf its capital, supports and carries on an educational system greater than that which our government maintains for the whole of England and Wales! Knowing that it is hopeless to attempt to raise the character of the education of a country without first raising the character and position of the schoolmaster, Switzerland has established, and at the present moment supports, thirteen Normal schools for the instruction of the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, whilst England and Wales rest satisfied with six! Eleven of these schools are permanent, and are held during the whole of the year; the remaining two sit only for about three months yearly, for the purpose of examining monitors recommended by the masters of the primary schools, and desirous of obtaining diplomas to enable them to act as schoolmasters. In the majority of these schools the members of the different religious sects are received with a willingness and with a Christian charity, which puts to shame our religious intolerance. Nor does this liberality proceed from any carelessness about the religious education of the people, for no master can obtain, from his canton's government, a diploma, to enable him to officiate as schoolmaster, without having first obtained from a clergyman of his own church a certificate of moral character and of competency to conduct the religious education in the school for which he is destined; but it proceeds rather from a recognition of this great truth, that the cause of religion must be deeply injured by neglecting the secular education of the people, and from a Christian resolution in all parties to concede somewhat, for the sake of insuring what must be the foundation of all social improvement, the advancement of the intelligence and morality of the people. M. Gauthey, a Presbyterian clergyman, and director of the Normal schools at Lausanne, M. Vehrli, director of the Normal school near Constance, the professors of the Normal school in Argovia, M. Schneider von Langnau, minister of public instruction in the canton of Berne, and M. Fellenberg, of Hofwyl, all assured me that they did not find the least inconvenience resulting from the instruction of different sects in the same schools. Those who differ in faith from the master of the school are allowed to absent themselves from the doctrinal lessons given in the school, and are required to attend one of their own clergy for the purpose of receiving from him their doctrinal instruction.
Even in Fribourg, a canton governed by Catholic priests, Protestants may be found mingled with the Catholics in the schools, and are allowed to absent themselves during the hours of religious lessons; and, in Argovia, a canton which has lately so distinguished itself by its opposition to the Jesuits of Lucerne, I found that several of the professors in the Normal school were Catholics, and that the utmost tolerance was manifested to all the Catholics attending the cantonal schools.
The Swiss governments perceived, that if the powerful sects in the several cantons were to refuse education to the Dissenters, only one part of the population would be educated. They perceived also, that secular education was necessary to the progress of religious education, and that they could secure neither without liberality; and therefore they resolved that all the children should be required to attend school, and that all the schools should be opened to the whole population.
In the canton of Neuchâtel, they have no Normal school, but they choose their masters from the monitors of the primary schools, who are most carefully educated and trained by the masters of the primary schools
* In 1846 the population of Switzerland was about 2,400,000.