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we are placed, form, indeed, a most important school, and by their help some men have risen to distinction in knowledge and virtue, with little aid from parents, teachers, and books.
Still the influence of parents and teachers is great. On them it very much depends, whether the circumstances which surround the child shall operate to his good. They must help him to read, interpret, and use wisely the great volumes of nature, society, and experience. They must fix his volatile glance, arrest his precipitate judgment, guide his observation, teach him to link together cause and effect in the outward world, and turn his thoughts inward on his own more mysterious nature. The young, left to the education of circumstances, left without teaching, guidance, restraint, will, in all probability, grow up ignorant, torpid in intellect, strangers to their own powers, and slaves to their passions. The fact, that some children, without aid from parents or schools, have struggled into eminence, no more proves such aid to be useless, than the fact, that some have grown strong under physical exposures which would destroy the majority of the race, would prove the worthlessness of the ordinary precautions which are taken for the security of health.
We have spoken of parents, as possessing, and as bound to exert, an important influence on the young. But they cannot do the whole work of education. Their daily occupation, the necessity of labors for the support of their families, household cares, the duty of watching over the health of their children, and other social relations, render it almost impossible for parents to qualify themselves for much of the teaching which the young require, and often deny thern time and opportunity for
giving instruction to which they are competent. Hence the need of a class of persons, who shall devote themselves exclusively to the work of education. In all societies, ancient and modern, this want has been felt; the profession of teachers has been known; and to secure the best helps of this kind to children, is one of the first duties of parents, for on these the progress of their children very much depends.
One of the discouraging views of society at the present moment is, that, whilst much is said of education, hardly any seem to feel the necessity of securing to it the best minds in the community, and of securing them at any price. A juster estimate of this office begins to be made in our great cities; but, generally, it seems to be thought that anybody may become a teacher. The most moderate ability is thought to be competent to the most important profession in society. Strange, too, as it may seem, on this point parents incline to be economical. They who squander thousands on dress, furniture, amusements, think it hard to pay comparatively small sums to the instructer; and through this ruinous economy, and this ignorance of the dignity of a teacher's vocation, they rob their children of aid, for which the treasures of worlds can afford no compensation.
There is no office higher than that of a teacher of youth, for there is nothing on earth so precious as the mind, soul, character of the child. No office should be regarded with greater respect. The first minds in the community should be encouraged to assume it. Parents should do all but impoverish themselves, to induce such to become the guardians and guides of their children. To this good, all their show and luxury should be sacrificed. Here they should be lavish, whilst they straiten
themselves in every thing else. They should wear the cheapest clothes, live on the plainest food, if they can in no other way secure to their families the best instruction. They should have no anxiety to accumuate property for their children, provided they can place them under influences, which will awaken their faculties, inspire them with pure and high principles, and fit them to bear a manly, useful, and honorable part in the world. No language can express the cruelty or folly of that economy, which, to leave a fortune to a child, starves his intellect, impoverishes his heart. There should be no economy in education. Money should never be weighed against the soul of a child. It should be poured out like water, for the child's intellectual and moral life.
Parents should seek an educator for the young of their families, who will become to them a hearty and efficient friend, counsellor, coadjutor, in their work. If their circumstances will allow it, they should so limit the school, that the instructer may know intimately every child, may become the friend of each, and may converse frequently with them in regard to each. He should be worthy of their confidence, should find their doors always open, should be among their most welcome guests, and should study with them the discipline which the peculiarities of each pupil may require. He should give the parents warning of the least obliquity of mind which he discovers at school, should receive in return their suggestions as to the injudiciousness of his own methods in regard to one or another child, and should concert with them the means of arresting every evil at its first manifestation. Such is the teacher we
paid in gold. A mạn
need, and his value cannot be of distinguished ability and virtue, whose mind should
be concentrated in the work of training as many children as he can thoroughly understand and guide, would shed a light on the path of parents for which they often sigh, and would give an impulse to the young, little comprehended under our present modes of teaching. No profession should receive so liberal remuneration. We need not say how far the community fall short of this estimate of the teacher's office. Very many send their children to school, and seldom or never see the instructer, who is operating daily and deeply on their minds and characters. With a blind confidence, perhaps they do not ask how that work is advancing, on which the dearest interests of the family depend. Perhaps they put the children under the daily control of one, with whom they do not care to associate. Perhaps, were they told what they ought to pay for teaching, they would stare as if a project for robbing them were on foot, or would suspect the sanity of the friend, who should counsel them to throw away so much money in purchasing that cheapest of all articles, that drug in every market, instruction for their children.
We know not how society can be aided more than by the formation of a body of wise and efficient educators. We know not any class which would contribute so much to the stability of the state, and to domestic happiness. Much as we respect the ministry of the Gospel, we believe that it must yield in importance to the office of training the young. In truth, the ministry now accomplishes little for want of that early intellectual and moral discipline, by which alone a community can be prepared to distinguish truth from falsehood, to comprehend the instructions of the pulpit, to receive higher and broader views of duty, and to apply general
principles to the diversified details of life. A body of cultivated men, devoted, with their whole hearts, to the improvement of education, and to the most effectual training of the young, would work a fundamental revolution in society. They would leaven the community with just principles. Their influence would penetrate our families. Our domestic discipline would no longer be left to accident and impulse. What parent has not felt the need of this aid, has not often been depressed, heart-sick, under the consciousness of ignorance in the great work of swaying the youthful mind!
We have spoken of the office of the education of human beings, as the noblest on earth, and have spoken deliberately. It is more important than that of the states
The statesman may set fences round our property and dwellings; but how much more are we indebted to him, who calls forth the powers and affections of those for whom our property is earned, and our dwellings are reared, and who renders our children objects of increasing love and respect. We go further. We maintain, that higher ability is required for the office of an educator of the young, than for that of a statesman. The highest ability is that, which penetrates farthest into human nature, comprehends the mind in all its capacities, traces out the laws of thought and moral action, understands the perfection of human nature and how it may be approached, understands the springs, motives, applications, by which the child is to be roused to the most vigorous and harmonious action of all its faculties, understands its perils, and knows how to blend and modify the influences which outward circumstances exert on the youthful mind. The speculations of statesmen are shallow, compared with these. It is the chief