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desirous of learning those languages, and their industry sharpened in the acquisition of them. All intended for divinity should be taught the Latin and Greek; for physic, the Latin, Greek, and French; for law, the Latin and French; merchants, the French, German, and Spanish; and, though all should not be compelled to learn Latin, Greek, or the modern foreign languages, yet none that have an ardent desire to learn them should be refused; their English, arithmetic, and other studies absolutely necessary, not being neglected.
If the new Universal History were also read, it would give a connected idea of human affairs, so far as it goes, which should be followed by the best modern histories, particularly of our mother country; then of these colonies, which should be accompanied with observations on their rise, increase, use to Great Britain, encouragements and discouragements, the means to make them flourish, and secure their liberties.
Sciences of Observation and Experiment. With the history of men, times, and nations, should be read at proper hours or days, some of the best histories of nature, which would not only be delightful to youth, and furnish them with matter for their letters, as well as other history, but would afterwards be of great use to them, whether they are merchants, handicrafts, or divines; enabling the first the better to understand many commodities and drugs, the second to improve his trade or handicraft by new mixtures and materials, and the last to adoro his discourses by beautiful comparisons, and strengthen them by new proofs of divine providence. The conversation of all will be improved by it, as occasions frequently occur of making natural observations, which are instructive, agreeable, and entertaining in almost all companies. Natural history will also afford opportunities of introducing many observations, relating to the preservation of health, which may be afterwards of great use. Arbuthnot on Air and Ailment, Sanctorius on Perspiration, Lemery on Foods, and some others, may now be read, and a very little explanation will make them sufficiently intelligible to youth.
Gardening and Agriculture-Commerce-Mechanic Arts. While they are reading natural history, might not a little gardening, planting, grafting, and inoculating, be taught and practised; and now and then excursions made to the neighboring plantations of the best farmers, their methods observed and reasoned upon for the information of youth, the improvement of agriculture being useful to all, and skill in it no disparagement to any?
The history of commerce, of the invention of arts, rise of manufactures, progress of trade, change of its seats, with the reasons and causes, may also be made entertaining to youth, and will be useful to all. And this, with the accounts in other history of the prodigious force and effect of engines and machines used in war, will naturally introduce a desire to be instructed in mechanics, and to be informed of the principles of that art by which weak men perform such wonders, labor is saved, and manufactures expedited. This will be the time to show them prints of ancient and modern machines; to explain them, to be copied, and for lectures in mechanical philosophy.
Good Breeding and Doing Good. With the whole should be constantly inculcated and cultivated that benignity of mind which shows itself in searching for and seizing every opportunity to serve and to oblige; and is the foundation of what is called good breeding; highly useful to the possessor, and most agreeable to all.
The idea of what is true merit should also be often presented to youth, explained and impressed on their minds, as consisting in an inclination, joined with an ability, to serve mankind, one's country, friends, and family; which ability is, with the blessing of God, to be acquired or greatly increased by true learning; and should, indeed, be the great aim and end of all learning.
SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL -:749. For the Consideration of the Trustees of the Philadelphia Academy. It is expected that every scholar to be admitted into the school be at least able to pronounce and divide the syllables in reading, and to write a legible hand. None to be received that are under years of age.
First or Lowest Class. Let the first class learn the English grammar rules, and at the same time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars; two of those nearest equal in their spelling to be put together. Let these strive for victory; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be spelled. He that spells truly most of the other's words, is victor for that day; he that is victor most days in a month to obtain a prize, a pretty, neat book of some kind, useful in their future studies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good spellers very early. It is a shame for a man to be so ignorant of this little art, in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like sound and different significations; the consciousness of which defect makes some men, otherwise of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter.
Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be short; such as Croxal's fables and little stories. In giving the lesson, let it be read to them ; let the meaning of tho dificult words in it be explained to them; and let them con it over by themselves before they are called to read to the master or usher; who is to take particular care that they do not read too fast, and that they duły observe the stops and pauses. A vocabulary of the most usual difficult words might be formed for their use, with explanations; and they might daily get a few of those words and explanations by heart, which would a little exercise their memories; or at least they might write a number of them in a small book for that purpose, which would help to fix the meaning of those words in their minds, and at the same time furnish every one with a little dictionary for his future use.
The Second Class. To be taught reading with attention, and with proper modulations of the voice, according to the sentiment and the subject.
Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this class for lessons, (and some of the easier Spectators would be very suitable for the purpose). These lessons might be given every night as tasks; the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first of the parts of speech, and construction of one or two sentences. This will oblige them to recur frequently to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory. Next, of the intention of the writer, or the scope of the piece, the meaning of each sentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaint them with the meaning and force of words, and give them that most necessary habit of reading with attention.
Tie master then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphas.s, and suitable action, where action is required; and put the youth on imitating his manner.
Where the author has used an expression not the best, let it be pointed out; and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.
Let the lessons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds in prose and verse, and the proper manner of reading each kind sometimes a well-told story, a piece of a sermon, a general's speech to his soldiers, a speech in a tragedy, sono part of a comedy, an vde, a satire, a letter, blank verse, Hudibrastic, heroic, &c. But let such lessons be chosen for reading as contain some useful instruction, whereby the understanding or morals of the youth may at the same time be improved.
It is required that they should first study and understand the lessons, before they are put upon reading them properly; to which end each boy should have an English Dictionary to help him over difficulties. When our boys read English to us, we are apt to imagine they understand what they read, because we do, and because it is their mother tongue. But they often read as parrots speak, knowing little or nothing of the meaning. And it is impossible a reader should give the due modulation to his voice, and pronounce properly, unless his understanding goes before his tongue, and makes him master of the sentiment. Accustoming boys to read aloud what they do not first understand, is the cause of those even, set tones so common among readers, which, when they have once got a habit of using, they find so difficult to correct; by which means, among fifty readers, we scarcely find a good one. For want of good reading, pieces published with a view to influence the minds of men, for their own or the public benefit, lose half their force. Were there but one good reader in a neighborhood, a public orator might be heard throughout a nation with the same advantages, and have the same effect upon his audience, as if they stood within the reach of his voice.
The Third Class. To be taught speaking properly and gracefully, which is near akin to good reading, and naturally follows it in the studies of youth. Let the scholars of this class begin with learning the elements of rhetoric, from some short system, so as to be able to give an account of the most useful tropes and figures. Let all their bad habits of speaking, all offences against good grammar, all corrupt or foreign accents, and all improper phrases be pointed out to them. Short speeches from the Roman or other history, or from the parliamentary debates, might be got by heart, and delivered with the proper action, &c. Speeches and scenes in our best tragedies and comedies, (avoiding everything that could injure the morals of youth,) might likewise be got by rote, and the boys exercised in delivering or acting them; great care being taken to form their manner after the truest models.
For their farther improvement, and a little to vary their studies, let them now begin to read history, after having got by heart a short table of the principal epochs in chronology. They may begin with Rollin's Ancient and Roman Histories, and proceed at proper hours, as they go through the subsequent classes, with the best histories of our own nation and colonies. Let emulation be excited among the boys, by giving, weekly, little prizes, or other small encouragements to those who are able to give the best account of what they have read, as to times, places, names of persons, &c. This will make them read with attention, and imprint the history well in their memories. In remarking on the history, the master will have fine opportunities of instilling instruction of various kinds, and of improving the morals, as well as the understandings, of youth.
The natural and mechanic history, contained in the Spectacle de la Nature, might also be begun in this class, and continued through the subsequent classes, by other books of the same kind; for, next to the knowledge of duty, this kind of knowledge is certainly the most useful, as well as the most entertaining. The merchant may thereby be enabled better to understand many commodities in trade; the handicraftsman to improve his business by new instruments, mixtures, and materials, and frequently hints are given for new methods of improving land, that may be set on foot greatly to the advantage of a country.
The Fourth Class. To be taught composition. Writing one's own language well is the next necessary accomplishment after good speaking. It is the writing-master's business to take care that the boys make fair characters, and place them straight and even in the lines; but to form their style, and even to take care that the stops and capitals are properly disposed, is the parts of the English master. The boys should be put on writing letters to each other on any common occurrences, and on various subjects, imaginary business, etc., containing little stories, accounts of their late reading, what part of authors please them, and why; letters of congratulation, of compliment, of request, of thanks, of recommendationof admonition, of consolation, of expostulation, excuse, &c.
In these they should be taught to express themselves clearly, concisely, and naturally, without affected words or high-flown phrases. All their letters to pass through the master's hands, who is to point out the faults, advise the corrections, and commend what he finds right. Some of the best letters published in their own language, as Sir William Temple's, those of Pope and his friends, and some others, might be set before the youth as models, their beauties pointed out and explained by the master, the letters themselves transcribed by the scholar.
Dr. Johnson's Ethices Elementa, or First Principles of Morality, may now be read by the scholars, and explained by the master, to lay a solid foundation of virtue and piety in their minds. And as this class continues the reading of history, let them now, at proper hours, receive some farther instruction in chronology and in that part of geography (from the mathematical master) which is necessary to understand the maps and globes. They should also be acquainted with the modern names of the places they find mentioned in ancient writers. The exercises of good reading, and proper speaking, still continued at suitable times.
The Fifth Class. To improve the youth in composition, they may now, besides continuing to write letters, begin to write little essays in prose, and sometimes in verse; not to make them poets, but for this reason, that nothing acquaints a lad so speedily with a variety of expression, as the necessity of finding such words and phrases as will suit the measure, sound, and rhyme of verse, and at the same time well express the sentiment. These essays should all pass under the master's eye, who will point out their faults, and put the writer on correcting them. Where the judgment is not ripe enough for forming new essays, let the sentiments of a Spectator be given, and required to be clothed in the scholar's own words; or the circumstances of some good story; the scholar to find expression. Let them be put sometimes on abridging a paragraph of a diffuse author; sometimes on dilating or amplifying what is wrote more closely. And now let Dr. Johnson's Noetica, or First Principles of Human Knowledge, containing a logic, or art of reasoning, etc., be read by the youth, and the difficulties that may occur to them be explained by the master. The reading of history, and the exercise of good reading and just speaking still continued.
Sixth Class. In this class, besides continuing the studies of the preceding in history, rhetoric, logic, moral and natural philosophy, the best English authors may be read and explained; as Tillotson, Milton, Locke, Addison, Pope, Swift, the higher papers in the Spectator and Guardian, the best translations of Homer, Virgil, and Horace, of Telemachus, Travels of Cyrus, etc.
Once a year let there be public exercises in the hall; the trustees and citizens present. Then let fine gilt books be given as prizes to such boys as distinguish themselves, and excel the others in any branch of learning, making three degrees of comparison; giving the best prize to him that performs best, a less valuable one to him that comes up next to the best; and another to the third. Commendations, encouragement, and advice to the rest, keeping up their hopes, that by industry they may excel another time. The names of those that obtain the prize, to be yearly printed in a list.
The hours of each day are to be divided and disposed in such a manner as that some classes may be with the writing master, improving their hands, others with the mathematical master, learning arithmetic, accounts, geography, use of the globes, drawing, mechanics, etc.; while the rest are in the English school, under the English master's care.
Thus instructed, youth will come out of this school fitted for learning any business, calling, or profession, except in such wherein languages are required; and though unacquainted with any ancient or foreign tongue, they will be masters of their own, which is of more immediate and general use; and withal will have attained many other valuable accomplishments; the time usually spent in acquiring those languages, often without success, being here employed in laying such a foundation of knowledge and ability as, properly improved, may qualify them to pass through and execute the several offices of civil life, with advantage and reputation to themselves and country.
[On his return to Philadelphia in 1785, Dr. Franklin found that the Institution which he had originated in 1749 had not only drifted away from the plan and methods marked out for its development, but that its future progress bad become involved in disputes and discussion which seemed, in his mind, to make it necessary to go back to first principles. Accordingly in June, 1789 he issued a pamphlet entitled, “Observations Relative to the Intentions of the Original Founders of the Academy in Philadelphia,” in which he traces the successive steps by which the trustees gave prominence to the classical side of the institution, and dwarfed his conception of a liberal education suitable for an American citizen who had not time or taste for the accomplishments of ancient learning or linguistic culture. In consequence of this course the Academy became a College and University (of the American type) without the option of courses which his larger and more practical views contemplated. He concludes his Observations' as follows:
The whole body of science is now to be met with in our modern languages, so that learning the ancient for the purpose of acquiring knowledge is become absolutely unnecessary. But there is in mankind an unaccountable prejudice in favor of ancient customs and habitudes, which incline to the continuance of them after the circumstances which formerly made them useful cease to exist. Hats were once thought a useful part of dress. They kept the head warm, and screened it from the sun, rain, snow, etc.
At what time hats were first introduced we know not, but in the last century they were universally worn throughout Europe. Gradually, however, as the wearing of wigs, and hair nicely dressed, prevailed, the putting on of hats was disused by genteel people, lest the curious arrangements of the curls and powdering should be disordered; and umbrellas began to supply their place; yet still our considering the hat as a part of dress continues so far to prevail, that a man of fashion is not thought dressed without having one, or something like one, about him, which he carries under his arm. So that there are a multitude of the politer people in all the courts and capital cities of Europe, who have never, nor their fathers before them, worn a hat otherwise than as a chapeau bras, though the utility of such a mode of wearing it is by no means apparent, and it is attended not only with some expense, but with a degree of constant trouble.
The still prevailing custom of having schools for teac ng generally our children, in these days, the Latin and Greek languages, I consider therefore, in no other light than as the chapeau bras of modern literature.
Thus the time spent in that study might, it seems, be much better employed in the education suitable for such a country as ours; and this was indeed the opinion of most of the original trustees.)