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action. Here we call no man master. Conventionalisms have no power over us, and when the mind does expand itself it is not compelled to do violence to a sort of secondary conscience, the result of conventional teachings, which in its progress it may have occasion to overturn. Hence we exhibit the phenomenon, not understood and not altogether believed in New England, of great mental originality acting in perfect harmony with a high sense of religion and morality. It is this independence of conventionalism which constituted the perfect repose of Washington's character. It is the want of that repose which mars the otherwise noble characters of the two Adams, his contemporaries. It was the continual effort to cast off the shackles of conventionalism which has attached quaintness and eccentricitty to the character of Franklin.
We confess, then, that we are satisfied with the reputation which this portion of our confederacy has enjoyed in times past; that even in the department of education we will not shrink from a comparison with all that Massachusetts has done, regard being always had to the peculiarities of our relative positions. We are far from being unwilling to improve, but we earnestly desire that the change which is proposed shall first be shown to be an improvement.
Our objections have been aimed almost exclusively against the appointment of a superintendant. As this is the first step towards the establishment of a new system, we have thought it advisable to show the inexpediency of the measure. Very little time must be devoted to a discussion of the other plans involved in the proposed reform.
We have already objected to normal schools, on the ground of their tendency to centralism. It is true that such is not their ostensible object, but such is their natural tendency. Normal schools supply to Protestant governments the desideratum which the schools of the Jesuits are said to have furnished to Catholic princes. They are the inventions of despotism. They originate in Prussia. We do not by any means question their success in turning out, from time to time, teachers of ability; but it is a serious question whether, under existing circumstances, we can induce their graduates to remain with us for the humble stipend which we offer them. And this leads to the consideration of the fund which the policy of the State has devoted to the cause of education. This is fixed at $37,500,
being just one-eighth of the whole income of the State. It is distributed in the ratio of representation, and allows three hundred dollars to every member of the House of Representatives. The schools are committed to the management of forty-four local boards, who are empowered to draw on the treasury for the amount of the teachers' wages, and are required to report annually to the legislature the the number of schools, of scholars and of teachers in their respective districts, and the amounts drawn from the treasury. Of course very little is to be learned from these reports respecting the manner in which the schools are conducted, and when we divide the amount of appropriation by the number of teachers the sum paid to each must appear inordinately small. In Pickens, for example, we find $1050 divided among forty-two teachers, and a note to this report declares that the schools are doing well. The commissioners only complain that the appropriation for Pendleton is not equally divided. The number of scholars who attend these forty-two schools is two hundred and twelve, or five scholars to a school. In Anderson there are fifty-four schools. Thus in the whole district of Pendleton, containing, according to Mills, 1836 square miles, there are no less than ninety-six schools, educating thi hundred and fifty-three scholars, consequently each school contains less than four scholars—and all this is done at a cost of $2100, or less than twenty dollars to each teacher. A fact like this is startling and unsatisfactory, but Mr. Allston explains it entirely to our satisfaction.
In enumerating the powers of the board of commissioners, one, he says, is “To unite the free school fund apportioned to their respective boards with the funds of private schools, for the purpose of instructing as many poor scholars as it will pay for.” And he adds in a note, “ This plan is pursued throughout the greater portion of the State, and it is a saying in many of the upper districts that they have no free schools. One of the greatest obstacles to the appointment of a superintendant is to be found in the jealousy of being overlooked by a public officer, on the part of those interested in these private schools, both principal and supporters." Report, p. 9.
No advocate for the existing system can adduce a stronger argument in its support than we can find in this note of Mr. Allston. By the powers given to the local board the 5
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education of the poor is placed in the very best hands; the children are distributed among the schools which are established for the education of those in more easy circumstances; the schools in which they are placed are under the government of men whose feelings, both as parents and contributors, must prompt them to exercise a salutary control, and the rich and the poor are happily brought together to be educated under the same influences. Under this arrangement we have upwards of three hundred children in Pendleton, educated at a cost to the State of less than six dollars each. This is the main point--the remuneration of the teacher is only incidental. By the way, we must congratulate ourselves on the satisfactory view which this report gives of the state of education in Pendleton. Where we find a white population of twentyfive thousand persons, covering a territory of nearly two thousand square miles, sustaining ninety-six schools, we may well ask what has Massachusetts done more than this?
We presume that wherever we find a number of teachers so great as to make his portion of the appropriation very inconsiderable, the system has been adopted of paying private teachers, from the State appropriation, for the education of the poor children. In the lower districts a diflerent system prevails, and as we pretend to be well acquainted with the workings of this system, we shall describe it somewhat in detail.
Unlike the upper districts, our lower division presents no compact neighborhoods, the natural locations for schools. Thus we find good schools in Orangeburgh, Walterborough, Summerville, Pineville, Beaufort, &c. In winter, some of the children of the wealthy remain at these schools, others are sent abroad to Charleston and elsewhere, and others are provided at home with private tutors. In every case, the education of a child is a heavy tax on the parent, so much so, that if other causes did not operate, it would be impossible, from this cause alone, to educate the poor and the rich together.
The poor, those for whose children the free school fund ought alone to be appropriated, are found scattered over the districts, generally in the pine lands. No principle of community brings them together, but each man lives on his own land, a part of which he cultivates, but the greater
part is left in its primeval forest, and affords pasture to the flocks of cattle and of hogs, which form the principal source of the wealth of the poor. From the very nature, therefore, of their occupation, a mixture of agricultural life and shepherd life, the population is necessarily sparse, and the difficulty of bringing schools within the reach of all extreme.
Guided by the knowledge which each local board has of the situation and wants of those for whose benefit the funds placed at its disposal are to be disbursed, they annually adjust the schools in such a manner as to furnish, if possible, the means of education to every child in their respective limits. And we assert from a knowledge of the subject, that no duty is ever performed so faithfully, with so deep a sense of moral responsibility, with such disinterested benevolence; that no body of men are less under the influence of corrupt or selfish feelings, or act with such thorough independence of popular and party clamor, as those local boards do.
In some instances schools are maintained in one spot throughout the year, at a salary of sixty dollars per quarter, from which is rigorously deducted a rateable proportion for every day, which the teacher may lose without à sufficient excuse.
In general, however, the schools are discontinued during the summer quarter, and thus one quarter's salary saved to be appropriated to the establishment of other schools. In some cases a teacher is required to teach two schools, that is, to devote three days of the week to one school and three days to another in a different neighborhood.* In other cases, inducements are held out to neighborhoods to establish a school, by appropriating to that purpose a sum equal to that which the subscribers will pay, allowing them to choose their teacher, and requiring that he shall report quarterly, and that all poor children shall be educated gratuitously. In these various ways numerous schools are maintained, and by changing their location as circumstances may require, the means of acquiring the rudiments of education are brought within the reach of every child in the district. Nor are these schools, humble as they may appear from the description
* This excellent regulation was adopted at the suggestion of W. Porcher Miles, Esq., of the College of Charlesion, and has been found to work well.
which we have given of them, to be despised. Though taught chiefly by those who have derived no other advantages, they are in every respect calculated to answer the ends of their institution.
It would add unnecessarily to the length of this essay to do more than merely touch upon the principal obstacle to the success of these schools. We have before adverted to the long list of lost days quarterly reported against all the scholars. It was hoped that by requiring attendance but three days in the week the parents would so arrange their affairs as to permit the children to avail themselves of that time; but this hope has not been altogether realized. A change must be effected, both in the moral and material condition of the people, before we can expect punctuality of attendance on the part of the children. With all these disadvantages, however, the schools are successful, and we believe that if there are, as it has been said, twenty thousand adults in the State who are unable to read, the fault, in most cases of those who are under forty years age, is to be attributed either to themselves or to their parents.
In the humble huts which are reared to be the temples of learning, the children are faithfully taught to read, to write, to spell and to cypher. More is not required of the teacher, but almost every quarterly report shows that some give lessons in grammar or in geography. And we assert from personal observation, that no adepts from normal schools can more successfully or more rapidly instruct his pupils than do the obscure teachers of our lowland schools. The truth is that they have a system ; it is the good old system of our fathers. They flog the boys and make them learn their lessons. If any teacher faithfully pursues this system, it matters not whether he is capable of imparting knowledge or not, the children will learn. The old-fashioned humble pedagogue, who religiously believes that there is wisdom in books, and with relying faith calls in the aid of his rod to assist his scholars in extracting that
* If any one object to the limited lime, (three days in the week,) allowed for the iustruction of children, we have only to refer to the success which crowned the benevolent efforts of Mr. Raikes in the institucion of Sunday schools. That institution was far from being what it is in this country-a means of imparting instruction in sectarian christianity—but was designed for the purpose of teaching the children of the poor the elements of learning. From this humble, but catholic and benevolent origin, it has risen to become a mighty lever in the hands of our religious teachers.