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tian Nation. What other Reformatory Society has effected the emancipation of a hundred thousand slaves within thirty years? The Bible is at this moment shaking the old foundations which for centuries have stood unmoved in China; and, if we may credit the assertion in the British Parliament of Mr. Layard, than whom none is better informed in Eastern affairs, the Bible is at the bottom of the great up-heaval which is now convulsing Russia and Turkey, and which is felt around the globe. The Bible is the great anti-sin text-book; the Church, the great anti-sin society. No Reform can be successful and complete which is not founded on the great fundamental principles contained in the Ten Commandments. All else is surfacework, and must prove abortive. As well might you kill a tree by clipping off here and there a twig, as kill a moral evil, while its root is still striking deep in a luxuriant soil. Missionaries to the heathen attempted first to civilize, then to Christianize, and they failed. They then reversed the mode. First they Christianized, then civilization followed by an easy and natural process. Suppress any outbreak of depravity by an outward pressure, and sooner or later it will again manifest itself in some form; but set in operation an influence which shall annihilate the desire to do wrong, and you have effected a radical and permanent cure.
Shall we then abandon all those Reformatory efforts which aim at meliorating the physical evils of society? Not at all. Apply them faithfully, and derive from them all the good they are capable of affording. Thus God does. Ile makes the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of it he restrains. Use all the outward appliances you can for restraining wrong; let there be laws, jails, and penitentiaries; let there be, if you please, anti-slavery societies, anti-drinking societies, and antisin societies, as many as you will; but you are only throttling the tiger with one hand, till with the other you can reach a dagger and plunge it to his heart; you are only keeping Satan at bay, till you can storm his very citadel, and upset his throne. The present is peculiarly an age of Reforms. In this we rejoice. It is in unison with our Republican government and free institutions. It is demanded by the increasing light and knowledge with which God is favoring us. Yet we have to lament that they have too often fallen into unskillful and unholy hands. But is it not because the Church has been remiss in lier duty ? When some affirm that “The American Church is the bulwark of American Slavery;" that “the world is in advance of the Church in moral Reforms;" that “the religion of the world is better than that of the Church :" we charge upon them the utterance of a most gigantic falsehood. At the same time, we stand rebuked for having given occasion, by our unfaithfulness, for the existence of these numerous Reformatory Societies, so divorced from religion. They prove, not that IIumanity is better than Piety; but that when Piety languishes, Humanity suffers. Reform is not religion, but one of the friends of it. There has ever been a conflict between Faith and Works, but without any just cause. Paul and James are perfectly harinonious in their teachings on this point, making faith the indwelling principle of piety, and works its outward manifestations. When piety is in its normal state, the two always co-exist. The one is the tree, the other the fruit. Works, when not framed in Faith, are anything but good. Reforms are but apples of Sodom, when not growing on the goodly trees of piety. Paul makes sad havoc with godless Reformers. Though they plead for the right with an angel's eloquence; strip themselves to clothe the naked; or burn themselves as a very holocaust of benevolence; he can call them nothing better than sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Religion, more than Reform, is the
great want of our time. "Nothing would more effectually relieve the sufferings of the poor; or sooner break the chains of the slave, and dash the cup of the drunkard; or more certainly dry up the floods of licentiousness, and relax the grasp of covetousness; or establish just and equitable relations between rich and poor, between capital and labor; or dissolve the thrones of despotism, multiply schools, diffuse abroad light and knowledge; or promote in every conceivable way, the progress, freedom, and happiness of
, the world, than the universal revival of religion.” Reforms are legitimate, but when divorced from religion, they are superficial and temporary. It is only when they come to take their proper place, not as a substitute for piety, but the fruit of it, that the world can expect much from them.
In conclusion, we confess to a profound respect both for “Old Fogy" and for “Young America,” yet we think neither free from imperfections. We would unite the wisdom and experience of the one with the zeal and activity of the other, in the belief that the coöperation of the two parties would most effectually serve the law of piety and humanity.
Arr. IV.-COMMON SCIIOOL SYSTEM OF MASSACHUSETTS.
Eighteenth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Massachu
setts Board of Education.
We have read this report with unusual interest. It contains a review of the last six years—the period of the official service of the present secretary-a survey of the modifications introduced under his administration, their tendencies and results. It is written in the terse and felicitous style which characterizes all the author's productions. Massachusetts has been peculiarly fortunate in its selection of men for this important office. The earnest and able efforts of the first secretary gave a new impulse to the cause of popular education throughout the state, and indeed far beyond the limits of his official relations; and now, after the trial of six years, it is a matter of congratulation that Mr. Mann, on his retirement, was succeeded by a scholar of so rare and varied attainments, a teacher of so large and successful experience, and a man of so excellent judgment and good sense as to command and retain to an unusual degree, the confidence and esteem of all parties throughout the commonwealth.
This report may fitly introduce an inquiry as to the value and importance of recent improvements and modifications in common schools, particularly as tested and illustrated in Massachusetts. For it is generally conceded that the Massachusetts School policy is in advance of all others, both in respect to its completeness as a system, and the munificent patronage of the state in carrying out its plans. Among all her distinctions, her schools stand preëminent. It is now the liberal aim of the state to make these her crowning glory. This is no mean praise. Popular Education is by far the most important interest with which the legislation of any state can have to do. Aside from the divinely appointed agencies of religion--which in this land of religious liberty are not matters of civil legislation--there is no interest and no ruling power like that of the Common Schools. Nothing else leaves such an impress upon our social character and our institutions. We cannot here alledge the numberless considerations which magnity its importance and claim the highest estimate of its rank.
It is impossible to extol too much this great interest, whose blessings are beyond price.
The report before us opens with an allusion to the adaptation of certain well defined doctrines in regard to the theory of education, and to the efforts now making to popularize these views and to give them general currency among the people. The theory of Education is in our judgment an important point. While there is general agreement as to the end of Collegiate studies, widely different views still prevail in regard to the primary purposes of a Common School education, and of course to the processes of attaining it, for the theory of education which is adapted, will subordinate all the processes to itself. Correct views on this subject are of the utmost importance. It is very desirable that parents as well as teachers and School Committees, should thoroughly investigate this topic and acquire definite and settled views upon it, in order that there may be harmony of plans and sentiments, and efficient coöperation between them.
Many parents seem to labor under the mistaken impression, that the attainment of knowledge is the first and chief thing to be aimed at in school, while the training of the faculties is regarded by them as a matter of secondary importance! The power of repeating, parrot-like, what has been crowded into the memory, is looked upon as the highest evidence of scholarship. The quantity, rather than the quality of attainment, is with them the test of improvement. The great work of education is thus reduced to a mere system of mnemotechny. Instead of seeking to discipline and develop the faculties of the pupil, his mind is treated as a mere receptacle, which is somehow—and in their view it matters little how-to be filled.
It is not strange that where such views prevail, a mechanical method of instruction should be adopted, which goes through a certain routine of mnemonic exercises, without any definite aim to train the mind and awaken thought and reflection. Nor should it be a matter of surprise, when we witness the legitimate results of such a system, and see pupils pass through the ordinary course of study with little control over their minds, utterly deficient in the power of application, with little interest in study, and without any purpose or prospect of future improvement. Thus the most ample and varied acquisitions become of little worth, because there is no power to use them, to arrange and classify them, and form new combinations. For it is the power of using the faculties and resources of the mind, in which lies the secret of success.
All the elements of the several branches may be fixed indelibly in a child's memory; he may have the leading facts and principles of the sciences upon his tongue's end, and become a walking encyclopedia, and yet be only a learned driveler. He can tell you what he has read or heard, and nothing more. Take him off the beaten track-ask him any inference from the stores which he has gained memoriter--and he is dumb. He has not learned to think for himself, nor ever dreamed that the great object of all study is to draw out and exercise the reflective faculties.
The habit of learning words and formal propositions without understanding their meaning, is still too prevalent in schools. This practice arises from the mistaken theory of education under consideration. Such superficial attainments are always chaotic, and often worse than useless. They lead the pupil complacently to imagine that he has the substance, when he has only the shell and semblance of knowledge. Ile las studied the book, but not the subject of which it treats. A sense of our ignorance is the first step towards knowledge; but a system of instruction which leads pupils to over-estimate their attainments, fosters conceit and indolence, and removes the incentives to study.
When a teacher retains a school for a single term only, as was the former custom in Massachusetts, and as is still the general practice in many of the states, he finds it much easier to hear recitations repeated by rote, than to secure a thorough comprehension of the principles which they involve. He is strongly tempted to overtask the memory, for the sake of flattering parents with the desired tokens of progress. This course is more productive of immediate and showy results. It is supposed to make a fine display at examinations. Hence the lesson must be committed to memory, whether understood or not. The pupils must rehearse fluently, although, to borrow a simile of Lord Bolingbroke, “they rattle on as meaningless as alarm clocks that have been prematurely sprung."
It sometimes appears to be the chief aim of the teacher, and still more generally of parents, to secure simply a rapid rehearsal of lessons and text-books—as if the repetition of the words, with a voluble tongue, was ample evidence of the acquirement and comprehension of the thoughts. But it is doing violence to the soul, to its innate love of truth, and of growth by the nutriment of truth, to feed it thus with the mere husks of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself.” Such training is quite as likely to make pupils flippant as fluent. They learn every thing, and know nothing. They pursue too many studies at a