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the understanding and truth, as that which subsists between the eye and light; why is it then, that the mind is not as open to truth and knowledge as the organ of vision is to light? Is it not because we have made a sad deviation from the simplicity of naturė, because we have adopted artificial methods at variance with her dictates ?
Were things or natural objects presented to the notice of children during their tender years, in proper order and succession, instead of artificial signs and sounds, to them void of sense or meaning, we should not be compelled to resort to those dangerous expedients and motives, which have their origin in the worst principles of our nature, which are fostered into maturity in the very nurseries of science, and which accompany us through life.
Children become disgusted at the very commencement; the portal leading to the temple of Knowledge presents nothing inviting; hence coercion is the only resource through every stage of their progression.
The principal motives resorted to in order to set the little passive beings in motion, and produce a reluctant activity, may be reduced to three classes, fear of punishment, hope of reward, and emulation. Each of these, unless in skilful hands, produces results the most mischievous, tends to pervert the character, and is far below the dignity of a rational being.
He who is trained under the influence of fear, can never be sensible of a generous motive, nor experience the satisfaction which results from voluntary actions, whose performance has been prompted by a sense of duty, or of doing what is right for its own sake ; tyranny has made him a slave, and fitted him to become a tyrant in his turn. From this melancholy issue nothing can save him but a powerful counteracting influence at home, or a timely change of scholastic discipline.
The hope of reward, so frequently held out as a motive to the performance of duty, is one which is brought into action in every stage of existence, in every rank of society. Motives of this class derive their quality entirely from the nature of the object proposed; this may be of a mere worldly nature, intended to promote some selfish gratification, or it may be a sincere desire to grow better, to elevate our intellectual, moral, and religious character; the former is low and base, the latter a laudable, generous, ennobling motive. The former will engender a selfish, mercenary spirit; the latter will form such characters as are an honor to human nature; the former, if necessary to resort to at all in relation to children, must be laid aside as soon as possible, the latter we must assiduously strive to fix in the mind, that it may become an unceasing stimulus to virtuous action. If the hope of reward be presented as a motive to action, this difference between the base and the genuine ought to be explicitly stated, and their boundaries distinctly marked.
Emulation is another of the means resorted to, one which results in like manner from a defective system; it is universal in its application ; there is hardly a child that is not made to experience its influence; it is generally considered not only perfectly allowable, but laudable; and one of the most promising traits of character a child can possess.
That it is connected with excellent qualities, such as sensibility, activity, genius, cannot be denied, but that it is also connected with other latent qualities that more than counterbalance these,—that it has a tendency to foster some of the worst principles of our nature, is also equally true. Its direct tendency is to cherish some of the very worst forms of an inordinate self-love, insomuch that pride, vanity, contempt of others, and a consequent high opinion of ourselves are its immediate fruits.
It is the clearest dictate of wisdom to adopt those means and enlist those motives, that shall suppress the evil, awaken and strengthen in the bosom the good propensities of which we are susceptible; always remembering, that whilst we are instructing the child we are forming the man, who in a short time is to take his station on the stage of human action, where the part he sustains will either be useful and honorable to himself and the community, or the reverse, according to the influences to which he has been exposed.
Where any improper motives are adopted in scholastic government, it is an evidence of a radical defect in some of the relations in which the child stands; and a perseverance in them, so far from producing the result desired, will only increase its virulence, and perhaps effectually confirm it; since it is well known, the more a child is accustomed to harshness, restraint, and extreme severity, the more insensible he becomes to the ordinary means of restraint; he who has commenced the use of opium must gradually increase the dose, until insanity or death terminate his career.
What then are the principles which it is so extremely desirable to implant in the minds of children? Are they not the formation of good habits, obedience, truth, order, mutual good-will, selfgovernment. A few of the most comprehensive rules of moral discipline, incorporated into the daily routine of duty, systematically attended to, explained, enforced, and held up by the teacher as a real object of pursuit, of daily and hourly practice, would soon effect a most important change, which would manifest itself in the conduct of the pupils, and relieve the teacher from an oppressive burthen, which at times is almost insupportable.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INTRODUCING A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF
BY E. VANCE, ESQ.
It has been said by an eminent author, that much of the happiness of human life is acknowledged to depend upon the rights of education and religion. Upon that of education depends in a measure the progress of religion and good morals. 6. The first and best security of civil liberty consists in impressing the infant mind with such habits of thought and action, as may correspond with and promote the appointment of public law.” Some of the republican States of antiquity, and perhaps more particularly that of Sparta, acknowledged the importance of a system of popular education, by the early provisions which were made to initiate the rising youth of the State in the “manners, the maxims, the exercises, the toils ; in a word, in all the mental and bodily acquirements and habits which corresponded with the genius of the State.". The first and Jeading object of popular education was the general welfare. History will demonstrate, that in all ages of the world in which mankind were known to have made progress in civilization and in the science of political liberty, that popular instruction in letters and in the arts was by no means neglected. Upon the other hand, where we notice a retrogradation of civil and political liberty—of religion or the moral rectitude of man, we may also behold the lamentable influence of ignorance, superstition and barbarism. As the basis of human happiness, therefore, no subject can be regarded as more important to the well-being and prosperity of mankind. A system of general education should be the first, the primary object of all well regulated nations.
Knowledge, like the sun in yonder firmament, should spread its effulgence as well around the humble cottage of poverty, as the palace of the rich and powerful—all should be warmed into mental life by its genial rays, and none should consent to stop short of a complete system of education, which seeks as its object the mental and moral improvement of the whole people.
My principal object on the present occasion, will be to point out a few of the prominent advantages which would be derived from a system of common school instruction, so modeled as to draw to it the sanction and succor of the States, as well as of the National Government. I propose only to give a succinct view of the subject, confining myself to the importance of the measure in a public or political point of view ; leaving it with others more familiar with the subject than myself, to improve the picture by adding such lights and shades as may be necessary to complete the portrait of human happiness. Perhaps it is due to myself to say here, that in consequence of other engagements, I could not appropriate the necessary time which would enable me to investigate my subject, with that degree of research and precision which the importance of the occasion demands. I will not shrink from my duty, however, though conscious as I am of the embarrassment under which I labor; but will proceed with a view to make myself useful, at least to some extent, rather than to feed the fancy with the beauties of rhetoric, or excite the passions by the fascinating charms of oratory. Should my labors serve to stimulate to active exertion, advocates in the cause more competent than myself, then shall I feel that I am amply rewarded for the humble part which I shall take in this discussion.
We believe there has been no subject within the range of national policy, which has hitherto been so much neglected as that of popular education. I speak of the subject in a national point of view. Some of the States, it is true, have already made provisions of a highly liberal character, as will be hereafter shown, for the support of public schools'; but as a measure of national policy it has been too long neglected. Every other question which seemed to connect itself with our national prosperity or the renown of the republic, has received the fullest share of attention. The inventive genius of our citizens has been exhausted upon every other species of enterprise which promised, in the remotest degree, to add to the wealth, prosperity or happiness of our people—but the important subject which should ever be regarded as the foundation or corner-stone of all our hopes, our prosperity or national greatness, has been left exclusively to individual and State enterprise for support and succor., If nothing should be promised from these sources, the cause is abandoned as being of too little moment to claim the attention or support of the nation. Should an error of this kind be longer permitted to exist ? The response will be, No. The talent of our citizens is, to some extent, the property of the nation ; and for the improvement of that talent the public have a right to draw upon the patronage of the Government. The youth of genius should be sought out from the abode of poverty, and conducted through the laborious paths of study until his mind should be stored with knowledge, that he may be the better capable of serving his country in some station of usefulness, or of maintaining his standing among the more fortunate portion of his fellow men. We boast of our freedom, but of what value is freedom to the indigent and poverty-stricken offspring of the aged or departed soldier of the revolution, who spent his all in his country's cause, and under the command of stern necessity has thrown his offspring upon the world without the means of moral or mental culture? I repeat the question, what is the value of freedom to these youths, who stand by and behold its blessings lavished upon the more fortunate, but are themselves incapable of tasting its sweets ? To such is our country indebted, more than the means of their education and the amelioration of their condition. These are the sons and the grand-sons of the brave and heroic soldiers, who fought the battles of their country that posterity might be blessed. Are these interesting but unfortunate youths of our land to be left to wander at the public gates, soliciting the crumbs which may fall from the table of the more opulent ? Are they to be left to trudge through the world like beasts of burthen, because they possess not the means to win them admission into our institutions of learning? The humanity of the government answers, Never. The genius of our free institutions forbids it.
Our commerce has received the most liberal aid from the General Government. Our navigable rivers have been every where improved-our national improvements have received the most liberal share of public attention and support. Such has been our onward movement in this branch of enterprise, as, in the language of a highly talented and eloquent member of Congress, to disturb the ancient silence of the primeval woods with the panting speed of the flying car” —by "cutting paths for its commerce through the deep foundation of the everlasting hills, or toiling up the mountain's summit with the rich presents which the far west sends greeting to the steep Atlantic stream.”. Our fortifications have been built up ; and our navy floats triumphant upon every sea. Manufacturing industry has been protected-every policy guarded ; and our arms are the dread and terror of the world. Such has been the unparalleled march of our national prosperity, that we seem to be conscious of no other want save an overflowing “ money market," or a multiplication of the facilities and objects of private speculation. An inordinate desire for the accumulation of riches seems to have absorbed every other consideration, and we too soon forget that the accumulated wealth of centuries was