Page images
PDF
EPUB

need to be hauled off for repairs. What she was bidden to do she did. What he had prophesied, she performed. And the day that the great trial was over, modern society, had it only known it, was re-born! In that new birth it was needed that Robert Stephenson should fitly train a school of machinists to their duty.

I cannot but believe that so soon as the State throws the prestige of the public school system around its schools of industry, and opens them as freely as it opens its schools of Latin, of Greek, and of the higher mathematics, we shall see boys of enterprise and ingenuity and quickness of eye, repair to them with as much eagerness as boys now repair to West Point or to Annapolis, — with more eagerness than they show in going to Yale and Harvard. The State will have provided what its system now lacks, and will meet the wants and aspirations, as it trains the inborn faculties, of every child of God born into its arms.

MR. ELIZUR WRIGHT.

MR. PRESIDENT: The filing school, so thoroughly illustrated, seems to be quite aside from the aim of the report before the Association, and rather in the line which we wish to avoid. The tendency of the present system of manufactures is to turn the boy into a tool instead of a man, – a tool that must rust when out of employ, instead of a man who can get his living and more, everywhere. We wish to educate the boy, not into a filing tool of the highest possible perfection, or drilling tool, or turniug tool; but into a master of so large a variety of tools, that he can create all the parts of some complicated and useful mechanism, so as to work, and produce something. Boyhood is not long enough to acquire absolute perfection in perhaps any one of a score of common old-fashioned hand-tools, which, used with the highest possible skill, can produce surprising and beautiful results.

The trouble is, if it were long enough, the beautiful result produced would not be the production of the twenty persons using the twenty tools, but of some superintending brain which used twenty human tools or twenty inanimate tools to produce it. Of all old-fashioned tools the file is perhaps the most painfully difficult to use perfectly. It lies at the very foundation of the metallic arts, and, without very high skill in its use, the present system of machinery could not have been born. But that once in existence, the importance and domain of the file, and the miraculously true filer, shrink almost into insignificance. If people were hereafter to be born without legs, the accomplishment of standing on one's head and walking on his hands would assume great importance. So if planing and turning engines, including the turning of irregular forms, were to be lost to mankind, the old marvellous skill in the use of the file might loom up again.

What we want in the field of practical education is some substitute for the dead apprenticeship system. In the presence of machinery in great establishments, the old trades which were handed down from father to son are either abolished or shrivelled to littleness.

The Yankee boy, the most constructive "critter” naturally in the world, is pretty much shut out from the sight of all sorts of tools. And, knowing nothing of tools, the machines which are made to do the work of the tools are a sealed book and a mystery to him. If he goes to a machine shop, they will, perhaps, take him on the footing of a tool, and set him to doing over and over, forever and ever, one particular thing; that is, if he does not disgust the superintendent by letting his machine do some mischief, which in his ignorance he is likely enough to do. He is a stranger in a strange city, in a perfeet Babel maze of buzzing and clanking, the meaning of which is all Greek to him.

But suppose he had first been let into my friend Ruggles's proposed school-shop, furnished with a considerable variety of tools and machines, and encouraged to try his ingenuity in using them to make something - to make the various parts and put them together. He does not become perfect with any

on.

tool, but he becomes familiar with a good many. He has done something with them himself. He has through them achieved & certain mastery over matter. Let him now go into a machine-shop, or great mechanical manufactory, and though he may be set, as in the other case, to do one thing over and over, he understands and sympathizes with all that is going

He catches the spirit of the place, and feels himself in some degree master of the situation. Instead of gloomily sinking to a level with the tool he is set to use, he seeks to command its best services in the hope of commanding others by and by

One of the wisest sayings of the learned Dr. Samuel Johnson, it seems to me, when his friend asked him how he should educate his son for a literary career, was "Turn him loose in a library.” There is a pretty large class of Yankee boys that would be sure to educate themselves if turned loose in a well-furnished shop. The addition of capable and kind teachers would not render it less sure.

[The discussion on the plan of Mr. Ruggles, set forth in the Report of the Committee of Social Science Association, was continued on the following evening, at the Institute of Technology, by Prof. Runkle, Prof. Whitaker, Prof. Watson, Mr. Newell and others. The Russian system of teaching the use of tools by actual training in all the manipulations of the file and other implements was contrasted with Mr. Ruggles's plan of teaching the entire trade, with some division as to preference; but all the speakers were agreed that the old apprenticeship, which in its best days was a slow process of repetition, mostly of the least important parts of a trade, had gone by, and that some substitute for it must be devised and generally and systematically applied.]

FEMALE EDUCATION PRIOR TO 1800.

REMINISCENCES OF SENEX.*

MR. EDITOR:-Convinced that I can not be better employed than in promoting the interests of education, and especially that of females, from whose nurseries we are to receive men of wisdom to fill every department of useful influence in society, I cheerfully comply with your request, to state what I know of the rise and progress of Female Education in this country, during the half-century past. The place of my nativity was in the vicinity of Hartford, (Connecticut) and my acquaintance somewhat extended in the county. In 1770, common schools were open to every child, and the expense of instruction paid by the public, partly by the school fund, which was then but small, and partly by town taxes. In larger districts, the schools were kept six months in the year, in the smaller, two, three, or four months. The branches taught were spelling, reading, writing, and rarely even the first rules of arithmetic. The Assembly's Catechism was repeated at the close of every Saturday forenoon school. Those of good memory could repeat the whole hundred and eight answers, the ten commandments, a part of Dilworth's Rules of Spelling, the stops and marks of distinction, and the prosody. Dilworth's Spelling Book was introduced about the year 1762. I have known boys that could do something in the four first rules of arithmetic. Girls were never taught it. At public examinations, as late as 1774, in some instances earlier, the speaking of pieces and dialogues was introduced, and specimens of writing; but I never recollect arithmetic. Whether the school consisted of thirty, sixty, or even one hundred, which I have known, one teacher only was employed, and among his pupils there were sometimes twenty A B C scholars.

Girls had no separate classes, though generally sitting on separate benches. A merchant from Boston, resident in my native town, who was desirous to give his eldest daughter the best education, sent her to that city, one quarter, to be taught needlework and dancing, and to improve her manners in good and genteel company. To complete this education, another quarter, the year following, was spent at Boston. A third quarter was then allowed her at the school of a lady in Hartford. Another female among my schoolmates was allowed to attend the same school for the period of three months, to attain the same accomplishments of needlework, good reading, marking, and polished manners. These are the only instances of female education, beyond that of the common schools before described, which I knew, in a town of considerable extent on Connecticut River, until 1776. Soon after that period, I saw and instructed

Rev. William Woodbridge, in the American Journal of Education for September, 1830, and in the American Annals of Education, for November, 1831.

« PreviousContinue »