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Reflections on the Operation of the Present System of Education, 1853   By: (1829-1922)

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REFLECTIONS ON THE OPERATION OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF EDUCATION.

BY

CHRISTOPHER C. ANDREWS, COUNSELLOR AT LAW.

"TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO; AND, WHEN HE IS OLD, HE WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT."

BOSTON: CROSBY, NICHOLS, AND COMPANY, 111, WASHINGTON STREET. 1853.

BOSTON: PRINTED BY JOHN WILSON AND SON, 22, SCHOOL STREET.

PREFATORY NOTE.

The increasing importance of the subject treated of has led the author to revise an article, published nearly two years ago in a monthly journal, and to present it in the following pages. His object is to call attention to what he regards a defect in the operation of our present system of education, and to propose some suggestions for its remedy. That defect consists in the want of moral instruction in our schools. Its existence, he believes, may be attributed to the state of public opinion, rather than to any imperfection in the system itself. For this reason, he is of opinion that remarks on the subject are more necessary, and therefore worthier of the consideration and indulgence of the public.

35, COURT STREET, BOSTON, May, 1853.

THE INCOMPLETE OPERATION OF OUR PRESENT SYSTEM OF EDUCATION.

The duty of bringing up the young in the way of usefulness has ever been acknowledged as of utmost importance to the well being and safety of a State. So imperative was this obligation considered by Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, that he excused children from maintaining their parents, when old and feeble, if they had neglected to qualify them for some useful art or profession. Although this principle has universally prevailed in every civilized age, yet the success of its practical operation depends entirely upon what is understood by necessary knowledge and useful employment. If, as among the Lacedemonians and many other nations of antiquity, a useful art consisted chiefly in the exploits of war, in being able to undergo privations and hardships, and in wielding successfully the heavy instruments of bloodshed, such an education as would conduce to the acquirement of that art must be estimated on different grounds from that system whose object is to develop the moral and intellectual faculties.

From the distant past, traditions have come down, evincing in many instances exemplary care in the culture of youth; but the conspicuous record made of them by the historian and poet refutes the idea that they were common. With the lapse of centuries, revolutions in the arts and sciences have been effected, important in themselves, but more so for the changes they have produced both in social and political affairs. Like hunters who discover in their forest wanderings a valuable mine which shapes anew their course of life, the people of the old world, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were allured from their incessant conflicts by the more profitable arts of peace. Till then the interests of learning had been crushed by the superstition and bigotry of the times. In the fourteenth century even, the most celebrated university in Europe, that of Bologna, bestowed its chief honors upon the professorship of astrology. But these grand developments in art and science gave a new impulse to social life. Thenceforward the interests of education began to thrive. The patronage given to popular instruction by many of the rulers of European States has imparted a lustre to their annals, which will almost atone for their heartless perversion of human rights. For whether we consider the coercive system of Prussia, which not yet exhibits very happy practical results; or the Austrian system, which indirectly operates coercively by denying employment to those unprovided with school diplomas; or the Bavarian, which makes a certificate of six years' schooling necessary to the contracting of a valid marriage or apprenticeship; or, indeed, the systems of many other Continental countries, we find much to excite cheering anticipations... Continue reading book >>




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