will take the trouble to learn, that education is neither her nurse nor her guardian. Our views of the necessity of education we believe to be based upon a higher idea of its importance than that which is entertained by those who are so jealously apprehensive of the loss of our liberties. There is one position in which we regard man as more elevated, more important, than as a citizen. It is in his character of humanity. As a man, the image of his creator, he is to be considered as more noble than as a citizen. It is, then, to elevate and humanize his character, to develope more fully the human nature, independently of all civil and political considerations, that we consider education necessary. We would educate man to connect him more perfectly with his fellow man, to put more means of enjoyment within his reach, to facilitate his intercourse with his creator. In this view, we regard education not as a civil or political necessity, but as a moral want. That the State has made such provisions for supplying this want, to the extent to which she may be reasonably expected to contribute, we propose to show before we conclude this paper. Before we proceed to that part of our task, however, we propose first to examine into the views of those persons whose opinions on this point differ from our own, and to inquire, not into the advantages which may be expected to follow the successful adoption of their views, for of that we are as fully convinced as themselves can be, but into the practicability of adopting them at all, and the consequences which may follow any unsuccessful attempt to adopt them. The first, and we are disposed to believe the least, difficulty which presents itself, consists in the amount of money which may be necessary to carry out such a scheme of education as that which the gentlemen, whose papers stand at the head of this article, propose. The gross amount of the revenue of the State does not exceed three hundred thousand dollars. Of this sum, one-eighth is appropriated to the support of schools. It may be that our people may submit to a higher rate of taxation in order to secure the benefits of a more thorough education, but it can hardly be suggested that the contribution of the State is too small in proportion to the extent of her revenue. The argument which may be drawn from the manner of disbursing the amount now contributed, will be answered in the course of the examination of the works which we have selected for our text. But, even supposing the pecuniary difficulties removed, one more serious exists in the habits and prejudices of the people, who are even now not always inclined to avail themselves of the scanty means of education placed within their reach. No one, we presume, will have the hardihood to advocate enforced attendance on the part of the scholars, and it would be futile to adopt a more comprehensive course of instruction without a reasonable assurance that it would be met by a corresponding effort on the parts of those for whose benefit it is intended. Under existing circumstances, we consider that the State amply discharges her duty when she offers to her citizens the means of learn

ing to read, to write and to cypher. These are the keys

to the whole cycle of knowledge; these are attainable by all, are of practical utility, and are readily appreciable by all. Here she should stop. In our estimate of the amount of education which is necessary, we fall far short of those gentlemen whose works are at the head of this paper. The estimates of Mr. Allston, and of others, cover orthography, reading, writing, English grammar, geography and arithmetic. One of the special committee suggests that in every school should be taught spelling, reading, writing, English gram

mar, arithmetic, geography, the elements and principles of

government, including a succinct view of the nature of the federal government and that of the State, also the elementary principles of morality as taught in the Bible, together with the elements of physiology. These branches are regarded as indispensable in every system of education. It is a painful office to dispel the illusions which the benevolent member of the special committee so fondly cherished whilst preparing his suggestions for the consideration of his colleagues. Had he been advising his friend, a man of fortune, as to the best system of education to be devised for his son, we should have been struck with the narrowness of the course, and wondered why, with such generally enlightened views, he did not perceive the propriety of adding a few other departments of study to perfect the course. But our benevolent friend has entirely lost sight of the very important question: For whom is it that you propose to devise a system of education ? And as this question does not appear to have been entertained by any of those gentlemen who have so benevolently assailed the existing institution, let us therefore give it some consideration before we go any further. Disguise it as we may, the fact is undeniable, that our common schools are intended for the children of the poor and for no other. It is to supply their wants that this. provision has been made. The rich not only do not require them, but we believe that, even in Charleston, under the most favorable circumstances for the schools, persons in easy circumstances do not resort to them. Under existing circumstances, no change can be effected, even if it were desirable, and we confess that we are by no means satisfied that any change in this respect is desirable. The provision, so far as the poor are concerned, is wise and benevolent; but the rich justly claim the right, and it is one which we hope they will always exercise, to place their children at schools of their own selection. We trust that we shall not be suspected of any wish to oppose obstacles to the education of the poor. So far from it, our only object in the writing of this paper is to endeavor to prevent any change in the existing system of schools, lest the revulsion which the failure of any experimental projects may create, should lead to the total abandonment of all efforts to educate our poor. None can see with greater pleasure than we do every advance which the poor make in intellectual progress; none can sympathize more than we do with the efforts which youthful ambition, from time to time, makes to break the fetters of ignorance which poverty has imposed upon it. But, from the very nature of things, such efforts must be rare examples. It is to the idea that the State should aid, in making this effort, that we oppose our voice. The rich and the poor are mutually necessary to each other's well being. The happiness of each depends upon his being in his true position. Let the poor lad, if he will, nobly strive to elevate himself by the labors of his mind; but you can never urge him to make the efforts which are necessary to the acquisition of knowledge if he knows that, after he has opened the portals of science, he shall be compelled to return to the habits and occupations of poverty. We believe, indeed, that there is nothing in a refined education which unfits a man for activity, but there is unquestionably a sense of incongruousness in the position of him who, after having sipped at the fountain of Castalia, finds himself reduced to the necessity of becoming a daily laborer for his daily bread. But our reformers contend that they only advocate useful education. Utility is relative. We believe that all knowledge is useful, but all useful knowledge is not therefore necessary. That which is not only useful but neces. sary to a professor, is by no means of even practical utility to the laborer. But we have so much reverence for knowledge that we would oppose no difficulties in the way of its diffusion, if we can only be satisfied that what the reformers propose is practicable, and, in the examination of this subject, let us begin with those whose views are most moderate. Mr. Allston and Mr. Bellinger propose that grammar and geography should be added to the course. What is grammar A subtle, logical and philosophical analysis of language. This is its true definition. That which is given to it in the school books, i.e., the art of speaking and writing a language correctly, is imperfect and mischievous. To acquire a knowledge of it demands a long, patient and metaphysical investigation, and involves some of the highest principles of logic. We do not hesitate to say that, to him who has no knowledge of language, the rules of grammar are unintelligible, and we are equally convinced that a knowledge of grammar would be acquired by the study of a foreign language in less than one-fourth of the time which would be necessary if the student is confined to his vernacular. The learner of a foreign language imperceptibly traces analogies, and these analogies lead as imperceptibly to the deduction of general laws. Hence it is that we so often see perfect masters of the English language who have never seen a grammar of the English tongue." o N.

* Though not exactly relevant, we cannot resist the temptation of inserting here a short paragraph from Mill's System of Logic, which is an unanswerable argument in favor of the study of other languages besides Our Own,

“One of the advantages of having systematically studied a plurality of languages, especially of those languages which philosophers have used as the vehicle of their thoughts, is the practical lesson we have respecting the ambiguities of words, by finding that the same word in one language corresponds, on different occasions, to different words in another. When

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

But as it may reasonably be urged that the object of teaching grammar is only to make the children acquainted with those rules which are laid down to secure the language from violation, and that without any metaphysical knowledge whatever they may be acquired and even be understood. We answer that this will apply to those who, in their vocation, will have occasion to resort to books and to writing, or whose position admits them into cultivated society. They who have no use for these rules quickly forget them. It is a fact which daily observation teaches, that correctness of language is home-bred, not acquired at schools; the habits acquired at home, the vices of language learned in infancy, are rarely removed, even by the most careful scholastic training. To him who is in a situation in which solecisms are to be particularly guarded against, the rules of grammar are valuable; so to a foreigner whose acquaintance with the language is imperfect, a pocket dictionary is a useful companion, as it may relieve him from the embarrassment occasioned by the want of a word; but to him who is utterly unacquainted with the language the dictionary is even worse than useless. There are many small grammars which a child may easily learn, but if education is to stop there, the time spent in learning them is not profitably spent. To the masses, the rules of grammar are, like the tables of Pythagoras, unaccountable and inexplicable. It is only in so far as it is a key to another language that we can advocate the utility of grammar as an inde. pendent study for young children; as a study of philology they can form no appreciation of it, and long before the mind of the free school child can be sufficiently developed to understand it, the necessity of living calls him from the school to the walks of active life. With these views of the practical utility of grammar as a necessary branch of primary school education, we now consider geography. Of all terrestrial sciences this is the most glorious. The

not thus exercised, even the strongest understandings find it difficult to believe, that things which have a common name have not in some respects or other a common nature, and often expend much labor, not only unprofitably but mischievously, in vain attempts to discover in what this common nature consists. But the "habit once formed, inserior intellects are eapable of detecting even ambiguities which are common to many lansuse,” I., chap, 4.

vol. xvi.-No. 31.

« ElőzőTovább »