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caprices of pupils will have much weight in inducing a change.
It is often charged that important branches of study are neglected. One says it is spelling, another reading, another penmanship and so on through the whole list. If we were to believe these profound critics we should conclude that absolutely nothing is taught in our schools. A recent writer in the Journal is absurdly extravagant in his statements in regard to the teaching of reading. The criticism is the more unjust from the fact that of late unusual attention has been given to reading with excellent results. If this writer is to be believed, by reason of this neglect a confusion of tongues is about to fall on our devoted city, as fearful as that which fell on the builders of the tower of Babel! It is a sad and unexpected revelation to most of us that not one of our teachers can read English respectably, and that in consequence we are in danger of having innumerable patois taught as barbarous as the Yorkshire dialect. Worst of all because our children cannot read like finished elocutionists they are in danger of becoming outlaws and forming the worst kind of a proletariat! Not knowing what horrors might be hidden under that dreadful word, I turned to Webster and was greatly relieved to find that he defines it
common people. As all American citizens belong to that class after all we have no reason to be greatly frightened! No one who read the article to which I refer can accuse me of misrepresenting the writer. Other criticisms of our public schools which have appeared if not so extravagant have been equally unjust.
Let us be thankful that these critics, although they make a great noise, are not very numerous. The great mass of the people are hearty friends of the schools, and ready to sustain the teachers in every reasonable way. Popular opinion has always approved the most liberal provisions for the schools. Dayton may justly be proud of her expenditures in this direction. In the character of her school buildings and in the salaries paid her teachers she stands in the front rank. As a citi. zen I am proud that the recent attempt to reduce salaries failed. Teaching has come to be recognized as a profession, and stands in the same place as the other liberal professions. Higher salaries should be paid than when it was looked upon as a mere stepping-stone to something esteemed better and higher.
Sometimes the friends of public schools, alarmed by criticism and attacks upon them, doubt whether they will be permanently sustained in their present efficiency, especially as to high school instruction. I do not share in their fears. I have never been moved by attacks on religion because a deep want of human nature which cannot be silenced insures its perpetuity. For a different but equally valid reason, I have no fears for education. The intelligence it creates is a sure defence against all these attacks. Macaulay's famous picture of what it has done for Scotland is equally applicable to this country. Speaking of the system of parish schools established by the Estates of Scotland in 1696, he says: “The effect could not immediately be felt, but before one generation had passed away, it began to be evident that the people of Scotland were superior in intelligence to the common people of any country in Europe. To whatever land the Scotchman might wander, to whatever calling he might betake himself, in America or in India, in trade or in war, the advantage he derived from his early training raised him above his competitors. Scotland, in spite of the barrenness of her soil and the severity of her climate, made such progress in agriculture, in manufactures, in commerce, in letters, in science, in all that constituted civilization, as the old wor has never seen equalled, and as even the new world has scarcely seen surpassed." If popular education bears such splendid fruit, certainly a people that has enjoyed its advantages can be safely trusted to guard and perpetuate the source of its strength and glory.
(Concluded next month.)
THE NARROWING TENDENCY OF TEACHING. We all possess peculiarities, which serve to distinguish us, one from another.
No two blades of grass are alike, neither are any two persons.
There are peculiarities of form and feature, of mind and manner, which characterize us. These are natural, and, while they may be modified somewhat, they can scarcely be entirely changed, but they go with us through life, they are, in fact, ourselves.
There are other things, which we acquire by association, by a particular way of life, by pursuing a particular vocation, by force of circumstances, and these cling to us scarcely less closely
than if they were a part of us, when once they have obtained a hold. These are habits, some of them are aids to our development, strengthening and making us better than we were to begin with; some of them shrivel and weaken and destroy us, as the worm saps the life of the plant.
Young children, just getting acquainted with this great world, are fresh in their impulses, free and untrammelled, easily impressed by good or by evil, altogether natural and refreshing. Men and women are more or less mechanical, warped and narrow, slaves to habit; and, what is sadder still, some are victims of habits, which are eating their lives away, and transforming them into objects that awaken only pity or disgust.
Habit, like a running stream, wears for itself a channel, sometimes even and smooth, sometimes rugged and deep, through which the wild torrents of passion and appetite rush with fearful violence, rending, finally, the soul from its shattered tenement of clay.
A man is apt to betray his vocation by his manner or speech. He may try to conceal it, but in an unguarded moment, by a chance word or expression, it will out, so much has it become a part of him. By applying himself continually to one kind of life, he acquires a certain way of expressing himself, certain pet subjects to talk about, certain set phrases. One talks hogs, another stocks, another politics, another science, another smacks of theology, another of law, another of medicine, another of trade, another gives unmistakable evidence of having spent most of his time in the school-room.
Teaching is a peculiar work, and peculiarly narrowing in its effects on those engaged in it.
He who mingles with men in the daily wear and tear of practical life, gets broadened by actual living and experience. The lawyer or physician gets, besides his theoretical and book knowledge, the practical side of life, which tends to develop him as a man, while the minister of the Gospel has for the subject of his thoughts eternal truths, which from their very nature should lift him higher and expand him into a noble manhood, while, to prevent him from becoming too abstract, it is his lot, to bury the dead; to join in marriage; to comfort the sorrowing, and to encourage the sick, all human enough, and tending to develop that charity which never faileth.
But though all vocations warp in a greater or less degree, none, I believe, are so apt to do so as teaching.
The daily contact with immature and undeveloped minds, as ready, in many instances, to receive error as truth, does not stregthen or develop the mind; the habit of having one's word law does not serve to humble nor cause one to place a true estimate on his own worth or ability; the everlasting detecting and correcting of faults does not make one more in love with humanity than he originally was; the continual wear and tear in the school-room and, oftentimes, the criticism and gossip of certain foolish people outside, who get the idea that, because one is hired by the public, he is public property, and, therefore, has no feelings or individual life or rights which the public is bound to respect,-such things as these do not tend to sweeten the disposition.
To have the mind occupied continually with petty details and first principles, and forever kept engaged with the rudiments and technicalities of learning, with little to do with great truths, practical things, or the current events of this great world, in which we live, this does not tend to develop thought or intellectual power, or to lift one into a higher, wider atmosphere of life.
What is the result? They who confine themselves too closely to this work, with no counter-balancing influence, become narrow, mechanical, prim, egotistical, unpractical, cross, illnatured, bombastic, obsolete, grim, and peculiar. Not a very pleasant picture to draw and present to teachers, surely, but the same picture represents, more or less accurately, any one who has allowed himself to be mastered by his vocation, instead of making himself master of it.
But some of my readers, perhaps, have lately commenced teaching, and have entered upon their work with a high purpose and enthusiasm, and you say within yourselves, “If that is a true picture of a teacher's life, I will seek some other field of labor, where I can keep my heart fresh and my impulses generous." Others may have been in the work for years and you may say, that I am mistaken, in your case at least, for instead of becoming narrow and ill-natured and mechanical, you are broader in your views and fresher in heart than when you first began.
It would not become me to leave the picture which I have drawn, believing, as I do, that a teacher's life may be as noble
as any that is lived, without presenting the other side to you, for, you know, most things have a bright as well as a dark side, and the bright is only made brighter by being contrasted with the dark, just as it is necessary, in order that the beauty of a sunset may be complete, that there should be a dark bank of clouds along the western horizon.
I believe that it is granted to every mortal, struggling in this sin-burdened world, to have, if he will seek and claim it, an individual, inner life, high up above the petty things which distract and annoy all who are under their sway, unlimited by the narrow sphere in which he moves, not bounded by prejudice and selfish interest, to live in an atmosphere, where there are no dank and poisonous vapors to choke off the aspirations of the soul, and make life a sickly dwarfed thing, a full, free life, which no one can interfere with; no circumstance can mar; nothing can take from you; your own, individual possession, for which you have a lifelong title, and, having which, you need feel no envy for another, but may walk the earth a free man or woman, subject to no one but the God who gave you being, such a life, I believe to be attainable, and such a life will lift any one out of the grooves of his daily life, and will make his field of labor, no matter what it is, as broad as earth and as high as heaven.
How to obtain such a life, I need not tell you, as you have been many times directed already, but, allow me to say, that I consider a sincere Christian character a high qualification for any honorable vocation in life, and, of all men, a teacher has most need of those virtues and qualities of heart which Christianity alone can give.
How then shall we escape this narrowing tendency?
I shall not attempt to lay down any explicit rules, by observing which, one will be able to do this. No two lives are alike, what would help me, might not help you, what I have need of, you can do without, each must find out for himself his individual needs, where there should be development, where pruning, or on which side he is becoming warped, and, having found, must seek the means of remedying these defects, and guarding against future inroads of the enemy. But a few practical suggestions may be of some use.
To enter a school-room in the morning with the idea that you have a disagreeable task before you that day, and the sooner it is over the better; to look upon the array of upturned