« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
ing one hundred families, was required to set up a “grammar school,” where youth could fit for college by the study of Latin and Greek. But, says Horace Mann, “ they laid a far broader foundation than has since been built upon."
The Pilgrim Fathers conceived the magnificent idea of not only a universal, but a free, liberal education for the whole people. They did not realize in practice their grand ideal, nor has the State in any generation since their day, successfully attempted to rear an educational superstructure above the first story, upon a common school basis. The grammar school clause soon became a dead letter upon the Puritan statute book. It was as futile as any attempt now is to establish and maintain high schools throughout the thinly settled townships of our infant States. The practical wisdom of the fathers soon found means to meet the necessities of the church and college. They set on foot private schools. As an example, Edward Hopkins, in 1657, gave funds “for the promotion of the cause of Christ and the education of youth for the public service of their country.” Thus was founded the “Hopkins Academy,” in Hadley, Mass., so long and widely useful, and the “ Hopkins Grammar School,” in New Haven, Connecticut. Nothing more was contemplated in these and similar schools that arose soon afterwards, than that they should give general culture, higher than the common school, but not so extensive, although of the same nature, as the college, to which they were especially designed to be preparatory.
The New England system of education, then, whose soundness time has ratified, and whose praise is on the lips of the civilized world, put an elementary education within the reach of all, at the expense of the State, and left it mainly to voluntary enterprize to make provision for higher culture. Between the common school that bathed in light every hamlet, and the college, that was the bright particnlar star of a whole State, was a broad middle ground. This the academy arose to occupy. How this middle ground has been filled, such institutions as Phillips' Academy, Exeter, Kimball, Union, Williston, and many other classic names, have long born witness. These
academies have been the right arm, the glory and triumph of New England. Many of her great men and most of her middle men-her merchants, manufacturers and farmersreceived their entire education in the academy. To the academy the New England colleges have ever looked for their annual supply of recruits, without which they themselves would at once sink to preparatory and irregular schools.
Such, history teaches us, have been the facts in the past, and such, college officers in New England, in reply to our inquiries, assure us are the facts now. They without exception affirm, that a very large majority of their students come from the academies, and that these students are the best fitted and most valuable men; and that the high schools, which, it is conceded, are in their highest excellence in New England, can not be depended upon as preparatory schools. Rare exceptions in our large cities are admitted.
What, we would now inquire, is there in our circumstances at the West, to require or justify, a different system of education from that founded by the fathers and proved by the children, for seven generations? We answer, nothing. We aim at ends no less lofty than they who landed on Plymouth Rock. A like purpose animates the true sons of the Pilgrime everywhere to plant the banners of Christ and sound learning, side by side. We must employ the same means which the past and present unite in assuring us are needful to success.
When Father Turner crossed the Alleghanies, forty years ago, he was told that Congregationalism could not live in the Mississippi Valley. He believed it could live where he could, as he carried it with himself and planted it wherever he went. A generation ago he planted a church in Iowa, and to make sure of its life, he founded an academy in the same building. The academy, so useful in New England, he thought admirably adapted to our wants in the west, and necessary to be cherished under our auspices, would we secure the full fruits of the planting and training of Congregational churches.
The essential features of this institution are, first, that it affords an opportunity for youth of both sexes, from any class in society, to enjoy an elevated course of instruction, in almost any branch of science; and secondly, it enables these youth who aim at the liberal professions, or a literary life, to pursue a course of classical study preparatory to an admission to the college proper. Thirdly, it is under private control and usually surrounded by the sympathies of a particular denomination, and animated by a living central purpose, to impart a Christian education.
Now we would call attention to the special considerations that should move us as a denomination to continue on our new field the institution of our fathers.
We should establish and cherish academies. 1st. If we would make sure of first-class and permanent preparatory schools. We can rely upon a supply of our wants in no other way. A thousand counter influences will meet us at every attempt. Modern gasometers filled with stifling gases from the “dead” languages, would extinguish any flame of enthusiasm for the classics, and repress every effort to make them prominent in a public school. No matter how often and how effectually the discussion is laid to rest in our generation, it will come up, like original sin, to dispute the peace of the next. But as Christian schools in the 19th century, we must hold some questions as settled. If Sir William Hamilton has correctly defined Protestant theology to be “applied philology and criticism ;” and if Charles Fifth uttered a deep truth, when he said that “a man was as many times a man as he acquired a new tongue;” and if Her Majesty's School Commissioners, after their recent most thorough investigation, under the lead of that profound thinker, Sir William Gladstone, have acted wisely in placing the classics as the educational basis of schools in England, and the central subject of instruction, we ought to put within the reach of our youth schools for thorough instruction in those important studies. The right first step is the essential thing in the work of education. Prof. Stanton, of Union College, says, “If there must be a defect in any part, let it be in the superstructure. My deliberate and mature conviction is, that more importance should be attached to the preparatory than to the collegiate course of study. The destiny of the student, and the world through him, is more affected by the preparatory course.” Have we not thus far neglected this foundation work in our care of the superstructure first? Let us return to the first principles. Let us look after the youth in their preparatory studies and see that they have the right thing to do and the right place to do it in, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, and we are safe, society is safe, and our colleges and theological seminaries are safe.
Secondly. That we may provide for the education of a large class who would naturally fall under our wing, and who otherwise will go un cared for, or resort to other institutions, less in harmony with, if not antagonistic to, our principles.
Thirdly. That since we have our churches, our colleges, our newspapers, as exponents of our principles, we may not lack a means of growth, which, not less than any other, contributes to the moral ascendency of New England. For her Lawrences, her Appletons and Willistons, have laid the foundations of her power to abide for generations after the influence of the “old man eloquent” and of her Webster has died away like the ocean waves upon the shores, where they sleep. The Puritan can no more govern by numbers, but if, adapting himself to the new condition of the West, he continues here the work begun by his ancestors, his ideas and institutions will triumph.
Fourthly. We need academies for the sake of our colleges. Our colleges can not take their true position while they are still compelled to fit their own students for college, and can look to no other schools as their natural feeders. Objectors may point to Oberlin, but this only exception proves the rule. The elementary departments, and all other adjuncts resorted to by some colleges (so-called) to magnify their catalogues, are, as the Hon. Newton Bateman says, “but flank movements to divert public scrutiny from their real nakedness,” and it is difficult to see, in such institutions, where the school ends and the college begins. The true college curriculum is for inen, not boys-for men of somewhat mature minds and scholarship, and not, as President Hopkins says, “a mere huddle of studies from the primary department up—a kind of intellectual variety-shop.” Pres. Woolsey declares, “the college can not be materially improved unless there are academies for thorough drill."
Says Pres. Gulliver-—“The absence of good training schools, of New England academies throughout the West, is well known and deeply deplored by every enlightened friend of education. There is serious danger that unless the evil can be speedily and effectually remedied, our whole system of Christian education will either be broken down or left so far in the rear of our growing population and wealth, as to become a minimum power among the forces of society, instead of the dominant and controlling agency it has thus far been in our history.”' Pres. Magoun says, “Our chief want in Iowa is academies.'' Pres. Andrews observes, “The college can not both lay the foundation and erect the whole superstructure.” Yet this is what our Western colleges are now compelled to do. As we learn from one of the oldest officers of Iowa College, “None have ever entered her from the graded schools fully prepared for college.” Says the same authority, “ Our graded schools are scarcely doing anything in Greek.” Similar testimony is furnished us from the Iowa State University. Says her professor in Greek, “I can assert most positively that neither the college nor the university can depend upon high schools. I do not remember one who has acquired the necessary Greek there.” Pres. King, of Cornell College—the leading Methodist college in Iowa-writes : “We do not have more than one student in forty enter college from high schools, and hence we do not rely upon them to prepare students. We greatly need academies to do this work.” The president of the Baptist college at Pella, says: “My own judgment, after an experience of sixteen years of teaching in Iowa, is that we want more first-class endowed academies, and fewer would-be colleges. Let us have many academies, few colleges. ” Similar testimony might be presented from educators in the Pres