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This committee having satisfied themselves that all former legislation n this subject was inadequate, and having examined, by a sub-committee, the Normal Schools of Massachusetts, and inquired into their operation in other countries, recommended the establishment of a Normal School at Albany, “for the education and training of teachers for common schools," and that the sum of $9,600 for the first year, and $10,000 annually for five years thereafter, in appropriations for its support. This recommendation was adopted by an almost unanimous vote.
This institution is required to be located in the county of Albany; and is to be under the supervision, management and direction of the Superintendent of Common Schools and the Regents of the University, who are authorized and required “from time to time to make all needful rules and regulations; to fix the number and compensation of teachers and others to be employed therein; to prescribe the preliminary examination, and the terms and conditions on which pupils shall be received and instructed therein-the number of pupils from the respective cities and counties, conforming as nearly as may be to the ratio of population-to fix the location of the said school, and the terms and conditions on which the grounds and buildings therefor shall be rented, if the same shall not be provided by the corporation of the city of Albany; and to provide in all things for the good government and management of the said school.” They are required to appoint a board, consisting of five persons, including the Superintendent of Common Schools, who are to constitute an executive committee for the care, management and government of the school, under the rules prescribed by the Board of Regents. Such executive committee, are to make full and detailed reports from time to time to the Superintendent and Regents, and among other things to recommend such rules and regulations as they may deem proper for said schools.
The superintendent and Regents are required annually to transmit to the Legislature an account of their proceedings and expenditures, together with a detailed report from the executive committee, relating to the progress, condition, and prospects of the school.
The city of Albany tendered the use of a suitable building, free of rent, for the use of the institution, and the school was organized and commenced the business of instruction in December, 1844, under the charge of David P. Page, Esq., of Newburyport, Mass., as Principal.
The following members composed the Executive Committee, under which the institution was organized: Hon. Samuel Young, State Superintendent, Rev. Alonzo Potter, D. D., Rev. Wm. H. Campbelo Gideon Hawley and Francis Dwight, Esqrs.
To be continued.
X. ESSAY ON EDUCATION.*
BY OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
As few subjects are more interesting to society, so few have been more frequently written upon, than the education of youth. Yet is it not a little surprising, that it should have been treated almost by all in a declamatory manner ? They have insisted largely on the advantages that result from it, both to the individual and to society, and have expatiated in the praise of what no one has ever been so hardy as to call in question.
Instead of giving us fine but empty harangues upon this subject, instead of indulging each his particular and whimsical system, it had been much better if the writers on this subject had treated it in a more scientific manner, repressed all the sallies of imagination, and given us the result of their observations with didactic simplicity. Upon this subject the smallest errors are of the most dangerous consequence; and the author should venture the imputation of stupidity upon a topic, where his slightest deviations may tend to injure the rising generation.
I shall, therefore, throw out a few thoughts upon this subject, which have not been attended to by others, and shall dismiss all attempts to please, while I study only instruction.
The manner in which our youth of London are at present educated is, some in free schools in the city, but the far greater number in boarding schools about town. The parent justly consults the health of his child, and finds that an education in the country tends to promote this much more than a continuance in the town. Thus far they are right: if there were a possibility of having even our free schools kept a little out of town, it would certainly conduce to the health and vigor of perhaps the mind as well as of the body. It may be thought whimsical, but it is truth, I have found by experience, that they who have spent all their lives in cities, contract not only an effeminacy of babit, but even of thinking.
But when I have said, that the boarding schools are preferable to free schools, as being in the country, this is certainly the only advantage I can allow them; otherwise it is impossible to conceive the ignorance of those who take upon them the important trust of education. Is any man unfit for any of the professions ? he finds his last resource in setting up school. Do any become bank. rupts in trade? they still set up a boarding school, and drive a trade this way, when all others fail: nay, I have been told of butchers and barbers, who have turned schoolmasters; and, more surprising still, made fortunes in their new professions.
* This Essay was originally published in the Bee, No. VI , Nov. 10th, 1759. It was afterwards introduced by the author into a volume of Essays with the following observation : "This Treatise was published before Rousseau's "Emilius :" if there be a similitude in any instance, it is hoped that the author of the present essay will not be termed a plagiarist." In this repript we follow Bohn's Edition of the Works of Oliver Goldsmith." 4 vols. Lon. doa. 1854.
Could we think ourselves in a country of civilized people could it be conceived that we have any regard for posterity, when such are permitted to take the charge of the morals, genius, and health of those dear little pledges, who may one day be the guardians of the liberties of Europe, and who may serve as the honor and bulwark of their aged parents? The care of our children, is it below the state ? is it fit to indulge the caprice of the ignorant with the dis. posal of their children in this particular? For the state to take the charge of all its children, as in Persia or Sparta, might at present be inconvenient; but surely with great ease it might cast an eye to their instructors. Of all members of society, I do not know a more useful or a more honorable one, than a schoolmaster; at the same time that I do not see any more generally despised, or whose talents are so ill rewarded.
Were the salaries of schoolmasters to be augmented from a diminution of useless sinecures, how might it turn to the advantage of this people-a people whom, without flattery, I may in other respects-term the wisest and greatest upon earth! But, while I would reward the deserving, I would dismiss those utterly unqualified for their employment: in short, I would make the business of a schoolmaster every way more respectable, by increasing their salaries, and admitting only men of proper abilities.
There are already schoolmasters appointed, and they have some small salaries; but where at present there is but one schoolmaster appointed, there should at least be two; and wherever the salary is at present twenty pounds, it should be a hundred. Do we give immoderate benefices to those who instruct our. selves, and shall we deny even subsistence to those who instruct our children ? Every member of society should be paid in proportion as he is necessary: and I will be bold enough to say, that schoolmasters in a state are more necessary than clergymen, as children stand in more need of instruction than their parents.
But, instead of this, as I have already observed, we send them to board in the country to the most ignorant set of men that can be imagined. But lest the ignorance of the master be not sufficient, the child is generally consigned to the usher. This is generally some poor needy animal, little superior to a footman either in learning or spirit, invited to his place by an advertisement, and kept there merely from his being of a complying disposition, and making the children fond of him. “You give your child to be educated to a slave," says a philosopher to a rich man; "instead of one slave, you will then have two."
It were well, however, if parents, upon fixing their children in one of these houses, would examine the abilities of the usher as well as of the master; for, whatever they are told to the contrary, the usher is generally the person most employed in their education. If, then, a gentleman, upon putting out his son to one of these houses, sees the usher disregarded by the master, he may depend upon it, that he is equally disregarded by the boys; the truth is, in spite of all their endeavors to please, they are generally the laughingstock of the school. Every trick is played upon the usher; the oddity of his manners, his dress, or his language, is a fund of eternal ridicule; the master himself now and then can not avoid joining in the laugh, and the poor wretch, eternally resenting this ill usage, seems to live in a state of war with all the family. This is a very proper person, is it not, to give children a relish for learning? They must esteem learning very much, when they see its professors used with such ceremony! If the usher be despised, the father may be assured his child will never be properly instructed.*
But let me suppose, that there are some schools without these inconveniences, -where the master and ushers are men of learning, reputation, and age siduity. If there are to be found such, they can not be prized in a state suffi. ciently. A boy will learn more true wisdom in a public school in a year, than by a private education in five. It is not from masters, but from their equals, youth learn a knowledge of the world: the little tricks they play each other, the punishment that frequently attends the commission, is a just picture of the great world, and all the ways of men are practiced in a public school in miniature. It is true, a child is early made acquainted with some vices in a school, but it is better to know these when a boy, than be first taught them when a man, for their novelty then may have irresistible charms.
In a public education boys early learn temperance; and if the parents and friends would give them less money upon their usual visits, it would be much to their advantage, since it may justly be said, that a great part of their disorders arise from surfeit, ---plus occidit gula quam gladius. And now I am come to the article of health, it may not be amiss to observe, that Mr. Locke and some others have advised, that children should be inured to cold, to fatigue, and hardship, from their youth; but Mr. Locke was but an indifferent physician. Habit, I grant has great influence over our constitutions, but we have not precise ideas upon this subject.
We know that, among savages, and even among our peasants, there are found children born with such constitutions, that they cross rivers by swimming, endure cold, thirst, hunger, and want of sleep, to a surprising degree; that when they happen to fall sick, they are cured, without the help of medicine, by nature alone. Such examples are adduced, to persuade us to imitate their manner of education, and accustom ourselves betimes to support the same fatigues. But had these gentlemen considered, first, that those savages and peasants are gen. erally not so longlived as they who have led a more indolent life; secondly, that the more laborious the life is, the less populous is the country: had they considered, that what physicians call the stamina vita, by fatigue and labor become rigid, and thus anticipate old age; that the number who survive those rude trials, bears no proportion to those who die in the experiment: had these things been properly considered, they would not have thus extolled an education begun in fatigue and hardships. Peter the Great, willing to inure the children of his seamen to a life of hardship, ordered that they should drink only sea water, but they unfortunately all died under the experiment.
But while I would exclude all unnecessary labors, yet still I would recommend temperance in the highest degree. No luxurious dishes with high sea. soning, nothing given children to force an appetite, as little sugared or salted provisions as possible, though never so pleasing; but milk, morning and night, should be their constant food. This diet would make them more healthy than any of those slops that are usually cooked by the mistress of a boarding school;
* The author's remarks upon this subject are the more worthy of attention, that he bim. sell knew by experience the duties and annoyances of such a situation.-Bohn.
besides, it corrects any consumptive habits, not unfrequently found amongst the children of city parents.
As boys should be educated with temperance, so the first greatest lesson that should be taught them is, to admire frugality. It is by the exercise of this virtue alone, they can ever expect to be useful members of society. It is true, lectures continually repeated upon this subject, may make some boys, when they grow up, run into an extreme, and become misers; but it were well had we more misers than we have among us. I know few characters more useful in society; for a man's having a larger or smaller share of money lying useless by him no way injures the commonwealth; since, should every miser now ex. haust his stores, this might make gold more plenty, but it would not increase the commodities or pleasures of life; they would still remain as they are at present: it matters not, therefore, whether men are misers or not, if they be only frugal, laborious, and fill the station they have chosen. If they deny themselves the necessaries of life, society is no way injured by their folly.
Instead, therefore, of romances, which praise young men of spirit, who go through a variety of adventures, and, at last, conclude a life of dissipation, folly, and extravagance, in riches .and matrimony, there should be some men of wit employed to compose books that might equally interest the passions of our youth; where such a one might be praised for having resisted allurements when young, and how he, at last, became lord mayor-how he was married to a lady of great sense, fortune, and beauty: to be as explicit as possible, the old story of Whittington, were his cat left out, might be more serviceable to the tender mind than either Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, or a hundred others, where frugality is the only good quality the hero is not possessed of. Were our schoolmasters, if any of them had sense enough to draw up such a work, thus employed, it would be much more serviceable to their pupils, than all the grammars and dictionaries they may publish these ten years.
Children should early be instructed in the arts, from which they would afterwards draw the greatest advantages. When the wonders of nature are never exposed to our view, we have no great desire to become acquainted with those parts of learning which pretend to account for the phenomena. One of the ancients complains, that as soon as young men have left school, and are obliged to converse in the world, they fancy themselves transported into a new region: “Ul cum in forum venerint existiment se in aliam terrarum orbem delatos.” We should early, therefore, instruct them in the experiments, if I may so express it, of knowledge, and leave to maturer age the accounting for the causes. But instead of that, when boys begin natural philosophy in colleges, they have not the least curiosity for those parts of the science which are proposed for their instruction; they have never before seen the phenomena, and consequently have no curiosity to learn the reasons. Might natural philosophy, therefore, be made their pastime in school, by this means it would in college become their amusement.
In several of the machines now in use, there would be ample field both for instruction and amusement: the different sorts of the phosphorus, the artificial pyrites, magnetism, electricity, the experiments upon the rarefaction and weight of the air, and those upon elastic bodies, might employ their idle hours, and none should be called from play to see such experiments but such as thought proper. At first, then, it would be sufficient if the instruments, and the effects