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The President alluded to the fragmentory and disconnected character of higher seminaries-the encroachment of one grade of schools on the legitimate field of another-of our High Schools, and Free Academies, on the colleges and universities. This is a growing evil, surely the former ought not to confer dangers which suppose the culture only attainable in the latter.
REV. CHARLES BROOKS, of Medford, Mass., remarked:
With your permission, Mr. President, I will read a resolution which I had intended to offer at this meeting as an introduction to what I have to say:
Resolved, That it is expedient to inquire whether the colleges of the United States, as a cout nuation of the common schools, should be supported by the State, as the public school is supported by the town.
It seems to me that this Association composed of members from all the older states, is to exercise a vast power upon the interest of learning, and especially in the new states and the republics of South America. It is from the older republics that these new states are to receive their ideas; from our models they are to shape their literary institutions; and it becomes an important question for us to see what we do in this regard. The question then comes before the reflecting mind, what is the best form to be adopted by a Republic? We begin with this proposition, that every child born into the world has a natural right to the development of his powers, physical, intellectual, and moral, in their natural order, at the proper time, and in due proportion; that every individual shall be when grown up just such a character as God ordained for the infant constitution. I apprehend that a republic is the only place upon earth where this idea can be carried into effect. What then is the duty of a republic with regard to every human being born within its territory? I apprehend it to be this; that every family is bound to take care of its children; that every town-I speak of the township for the sake of convenience of illustration, although well aware that it is politically unknown in many parts of the country-that the town is morally and politically bound to see that every child within its precincts receives an education. Every town ought to have a law to secure the attendance of every child at school, public, or private, and compelling the child to go to some school, whether the parents will or not. The state, I apprehend, is but a continuation of the town, and every state is morally and politically bound to see that every child born within its territory, receives a proper physical, intellectual, and moral culture. What, then, is the next step? That the town shall institute infant schools, or primary schools, and shall say to every child under seven years of age-go to that school, and you will find a good school-house, a good teacher, and proper books, all free; and when you have attended that school until you are seven years of age, you have but to make your bow and thank the town. You may then go to the grammar school, where you will find apparatus, teachers, books, all that is required. The town asks only of your parents to clothe and feed you. And when
you have graduated from the grammar school, go to the high school, and there you will find all the instrumentalities required to carry you forward in the higher departments of learning.
And the natural continuation of this system is the true republican idea of education. Carry out this republican idea, that every child has a right to culture, that every town is bound to see that its children receive education, and it follows that every state is morally and politically bound to develop all the talents that God sends into it; and it is therefore the duty of the State to establish a free college, and thus to carry educatior. still onward, and make each child what God designed that he should be. This, I apprehend, is the true republican idea of education. This is the idea which I wish to see established in all the republics of South America. And after all this comes the noble plan which has been so admirably and eloquently described by our retiring President, a University into which the best scholars from our colleges may go and receive from the country such culture of the peculiar talents which each possesses as shall fit him to answer the purpose for which he was born into the world, that he may fill the spot which God ordained that he should fill, that he may work without friction in his own proper place in the world.
MR. JOHN MCMULLEN, of New York, followed with some interesting remarks on the power of sympathy in education, which as they had no special reference to the subject of a National University, are omitted in this place.
PROF. BENJAMIN PIERCE, of Cambridge, Mass., remarked :—
There is one subject spoken of in the address of the retiring President, in which with him I have taken great interest, and with him have suffered disappointment;-it is the establishment of a great University. I can, as he can, speak upon the subject, now at.least, with independence. There was a time, when we were engaged in our efforts at Albany, when I should have been willing to embark in such an institution, when against the entreaties and almost the tears of my family and friends, I should have been willing, for the sake of the cause of education in the country to have abandoned existing connections with another place of learning, to join that institution. But since that time I have designedly made such engagements, as will make it impossible now. I am therefore, as free as the President, to speak upon the subject. It seems to me to have a very close and important connection with the subject referred to by Rev. Mr. Brooks; the duty of the government to educate every citizen; its duty, because, if for no other reason, it is good economy upon the part of the State, to educate every one of its citizens to the utmost extent; just as good economy as for the farmer to make the most of every portion of his stock. The state will be benefitted by educating every man to the highest point that he can be; and it will be the best investment it can make of its funds to invest them in intellect developed to its utmost capacity.
It seems to me that a great University in connection with the colleges and high schools, is of the greatest importance, because it gives the
only means of adapting education to every variety of intellect. I begin to think that even in our Common School system, excellent as it is, there is one great defect. As it is administered at present in my own State, Massachusetts, I am sure that there is. It partakes too much of the character of a sort of manufactory, in which masses of educated men are to be turned out as if they were screws or pins. This is no way to educate men. Men have individual characters. Their Deity has made them with speciality, and we can not unmake them. Education must consist in giving men opportunities for development, more than anything else, and it is the duty of the State to afford those opportunities. There are certain men, who will, under any circumstances follow the sea. There are others who will stay at home, and stand behind the counter to sell the goods. You can not help it. They will do it. There are others, the Smithsons, the Lawrences, the Coopers, of our race, who will go into the market and make fortunes for the sake of founding institutions of learning which shall be a glory to their country. There are the Newtons and the La Places who are nothing if they are not Newtons or La Places. It is no accident that the same intellectual family has given birth to him who subdued the lightning, and to that other, who is now among us, who has subdued even the earthquake to the service of science, and compelled this destructive agency to explore the depths of the ocean and report its measure with unerring precision.
It seems to me that it is important to provide a greater number of teachers, and also to arrange the schools in such a way that the different classes of intellect can properly be brought out, and can be allowed opportunity to develop themselves. I think that the idea of sympathy which has been referred to [by Mr. McMullen,] is a very important one, not merely the sympathy of the pupils among themselves, but sympathy with their teacher. A pupil can learn from his teacher only when he has a sympathy with him. It seems to me that if we look through the world which the Deity has made, we shall see other indications of what we should do in this respect. We certainly should not think it possible for the lark to learn its song from the raven, or for the bird of night to teach wisdom to the cock that crows in the morning; nor would it be possible for the goose to teach the eagle how to fly. So also I am quite sure that minds of a certain order can only be instructed by minds of the same order. The similia similibus is a real law of mind, whether it is of medical science or not. I think that it was important for the education of an Agassiz, that he was subject to the inspiration of a Cuvier; that even if some teachers may go far beyond their pupils, so that they can not fully follow them, yet that the enthusiasm of their nature will inspire the pupil to rival their masters, and that this is a very important element in the development of leading minds.
I know it is a popular doctrine that genius will find its own way; but I doubt whether genius will necessarily be developed of itself. We have another popular doctrine which is much nearer to the truth, which is, that opportunity makes the man. We can not have a great man unless
he has great ability, but, neither can we have a great man who has not an opportunity worthy to develope him. It is important, therefore, that in our public provision for education, we should give this opportunity.
There is one other remark I would like to make, in reference to the religious element as brought into the schools. It seems to me that there is too much of a disposition to exclude it from the fear of sectarian influences. Now I can not but think that the sectarianism is a far less evil than the exclusion of religion; and as a father, I would rather have my own child subjected to any sectarian influences, I care not what they are, than have him taught in a school where his Maker is not constantly recognized. It seems to me that the attempt to entirely leave this out of the schools, is about as rational as it would be if we were to take the salt out of all our food during the day, and think we could properly incorporate it into our system by eating it all together in the morning or at night.
[The subject of this Discussion was resumed by Prof. PIERCE, after the reading of a Paper by President TAPPAN, of the University of Michigan, on the "Progress of Educational Development in Europe."]
This learned and profound discussion of the progress of the University seems to be of the greatest importance to the understanding of what the University ought to be, and what ought to be the relations of our colleges to education. I confess that for the first time, have I had a perfectly clear understanding of this whole subject. I have known that our views in many respects were quite erroneous. I was aware that the name of American System, as applied to our colleges, was altogether erroneous. It is in its very basis such a system as would not have originated in a free people from their own action. It has no element of freedom in it. Its rigid restriction to a period of four years; its conferring of degrees without examination, merely as such, merely as honorary titles, are altogether opposed to our system of free education and the free principles of our country. I hope that at some time or other, this subject will be distinctly brought before us by the Standing Committee, that we may examine it from this point of view, as to the expediency of recommending to our colleges to abandon their present system of a limited period for education, and to found a system upon the idea of giving a real education, such an education as men want, such as parents wish their sons to receive, instead of sending them to college to stay a certain time, and then to come out with the name of being educated, but without the reality.
It seems to me of the highest importance, also, that this Association should distinctly recommend that degrees as at present given, should be abandoned wholly and forever, and that either degrees should not be given at all, or in order to have a real, instead of a nominal value, that they shall be given after satisfactory examination, and that they shall be accompanied with forms of expression indicating the value of the examination. The only institution that I have any personal knowledge of, in the country where this has been introduced, is the Lawrence
Scientific School. To a certain extent, I believe the plan has been adopted in the University of Virginia, and perhaps, also, in some other cases; but I presume it is not carried out with that vigor, with that rigid demand for examination that is required at that School. We might also exclude perhaps the Military Schools at West Point, and Annapolis; but they are very different from the common systems, and are not included in our system of education. I have seen the effect of these examinations upon the Lawrence Scientific School, and I am satisfied that it will at once make a change which it is hardly possible to estimate upon the character of that school, and of all schools founded upon that system. I believe that it will be known hereafter as the model school in that respect; simply because the degrees are given after a very rigid and thorough examination, and only given to those who have successfully passed such an examination. The degrees given, and the different certificates, are taken from the idea of the German and Russian institutions, so ably developed in President Tappan's address. We give the titles, Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude. The consequence is, that the pupils have become stimulated by these examinations to a most extraordinary, not to say sudden manner. Through the school the effect was instantaneous, when they found that the examinations were real examinations. The anxiety to get a high degree, is intense; and it is an ambition accompanied with no rivalry, because every one who deserves it gets it. One man does not put down another by getting it. Another consequence of this plan, is, that the time becomes at once unlimited. It is true that we passed the condition that we would not give an examination until he had been two years in the institution; but this last year, the students examined, and there were only half a dozen examined—had been in the mere chemical school alone, a period varying from four to six years before they were willing to offer themselves for examination. The consequence was that every one of them had the award of Summâ Cum Laude; and they were examinations such as I never before thought possible. They were examinations which these young men, who had been subjected to scientific training only, without the opportunity of classical education, of that admirable classical drilling which we have certainly introduced into our schools, passed the examination as I think no other men could have done, with all the accuracy, all the rigor of a West Point examination. The best scholars at West Point could not have shown themselves more ready; and they were examined upon the highest points of chemistry, each of them being at the blackboard for four or five hours in continuous examination upon the most difficult questions in the Science. One of them, indeed, gave an entirely new mode of investigation, original with himself, upon a subject that some of the eminent chemists of Europe had undertaken in vain to solve. (Applause.) This result was exclusively, I believe, and as I think these young men will tell you, because we had the examinations. There were opportunities offered for education, but not greater than could be obtained almost anywhere without difficulty. They saw the importance of the opportunity,