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.of learning in some of its higher, and, of course, more limited departments; but I believe this to be the first instance where any considerable sum has been given for the cause of education, generally, and irrespective of class, or sect, or party. Munificent donations have frequently been made, amongst ourselves, as well as in other States and countries, to perpetuate some distinctive theory or dogma of one's own, or to requite a peculiar few who may have honored or flattered the giver. But this was given to augment the common mass of intelligence, and to promote universal culture; it was given with a high and enlightened disregard of all local, party, personal or sectional views; it was given for the direct benefit of all the heart and all the mind, extant, or to be extant, in our beloved Commonwealth; and, in this respect, it certainly stands out almost, if not absolutely alone, both in the amount of the donation, and in the elevation of the motive that prompted it. I will not tarnish the brightness of this deed, by attempting to gild it with praise. One of the truest and most impressive sentiments ever uttered by Sir Walter Scott is, however, so appropriate, and forces itself so strongly upon my mind, that I cannot repress its utterance. When that plain and homely Scotch girl, Jeannie Deans,-the highest of all the characters ever conceived by that gifted author,-is pleading her suit before the British queen,-and showing herself therein to be ten times a queen,-she utters the sentiment I refer to: "But when," says she, "the hour of trouble comes to the mind or to the body, and when the hour of death comes, that comes to high and low, then it isna what we hae dune for oursells, but what we hae dune for others, that we think on maist pleasantly."
There is, then, at last, on the part of the government of Massachusetts, a recognition of the
expediency of providing means for the special qualification of teachers for our Common Schools; or, at least, of submitting that question to a fair experiment. Let us not, however, deceive or flatter ourselves with the belief, that such an opinion very generally prevails, or is very deeply seated. A few, and those, as we believe, best qualified to judge, hold this opinion as an axiom. But this cannot be said of great numbers; and it requires no prophetic vision to foresee that any plan for carrying out this object, however wisely framed, will have to encounter not only the prejudices of the ignorant, but the hostility of the selfish.
The most momentous practical questions now before our state and country are these: In order to preserve our republican institutions, must not our Common Schools be elevated in character and increased in efficiency? and, in order to bring our schools up to the point of excellence demanded by the nature of our institutions, must there not be a special course of study and training to qualify teachers for their office? No other worldly interest presents any question comparable to these in importance. To the more special consideration of the latter, namely, whether the teachers of our public schools require a special course of study and training to qualify them for their vocation,I solicit your attention, during the residue of this address.
I shall not here insist upon any particular mode of preparation, or of preparation in any particular class of institutions,-whether Normal Schools, special departments in academies, colleges, or elsewhere, to the exclusion of all other institutions. What I insist upon, is, not the form, but the substance.
In treating this subject, duty will require me to speak of errors and deficiencies; and of the inadequate conceptions now entertained of the true
office and mission of a teacher. This is a painfu obligation, and in discharging it I am sure I shal not be misunderstood by any candid and intelligent mind. Towards the teachers of our schools, as a class,—I certainly possess none but the most fraternal feelings. Their want of adequate qualifications is the want of the times, rather than of themselves. Teachers, heretofore, have only been partakers in a general error,-an error in which you and I, my hearers, have been as profoundly lost as they. Let this be their excuse hitherto, and let the ignorance of the past be winked at; but the best service we can now render them, is to take this excuse away, by showing the inadequacy and the unsoundness of our former views. Let all who shall henceforth strive to do better, stand acquitted for past delinquencies; but will not those deserve a double measure of condemnation who shall set themselves in array against measures, which so many wise and good men have approved, at least until those measures have been fairly tested? When the tree shall have been planted long enough to mature its fruit, then, let it be known by its fruit.
No one has ever supposed that an individual could build up a material temple, and give it strength, and convenience, and fair proportions, without first mastering the architectural art; but we have employed thousands of teachers for our children, to build up the immortal Temple of the Spirit, who have never given to this divine, educational art, a day nor an hour of preliminary study or attention. How often have we sneered at Dogberry in the play, because he holds that "to read and write comes by nature;" when we ourselves have undertaken to teach, or have employed teachers, whose only fitness for giving instruction, not only in reading and writing, but in all other things, has come by nature, if it has come at all;
--that is, in exact accordance with Dogberry's philosophy.
In maintaining the affirmative of this question, -namely, that all teachers do require a special course of study and training, to qualify them for their profession,-I will not higgle with my adversary in adjusting preliminaries. He may be the disciple of any school in metaphysics, and he may hold what faith he pleases, respecting the mind's nature and essence. Be he spiritualist or materialist, it here matters not,-nay, though he should deny that there is any such substance as mind or spirit, at all, I will not stop to dispute that point with him,-preferring rather to imitate the example of those old knights of the tournament, who felt such confidence in the justness of their cause, that they gave their adversaries the advantage of sun and wind. For, whatever the mind may be, in its inscrutable nature or essence, or whether there be any such thing as mind or spirit at all, properly so called, this we have seen and do know, that there come beings into this world, with every incoming generation of children, who, although at first so ignorant, helpless, speechless,-so incapable of all motion, upright or rotary,-that we can hardly persuade ourselves they have not lost their way, and come, by mistake, into the wrong world; yet, after a few swift years have passed away, we see thousands of these same ignorant and helpless beings, expiating horrible offences in prison cells, or dashing themselves to death against the bars of a maniac's cage;-others of them, we see, holding "colloquy sublime," in halls where a nation's fate is arbitrated, or solving some of the mightiest problems that belong to this wonderful universe;
and others still, there are, who, by daily and nightly contemplation of the laws of God, have kindled that fire of divine truth within their
bosoms, by which they become those moral luminaries whose light shineth from one part of the heavens unto the other. And this amazing change in these feeble and helpless creatures, this transfiguration of them for good or for evil,-is wrought by laws of organization and of increase, as certain in their operation, and as infallible in their results, as those by which the skilful gardener substitutes flowers, and delicious fruits, and healing herbs, for briars and thorns and poisonous plants. And as we hold the gardener responsible for the productions of his garden, so is the community responsible for the general character and conduct of its children.
Some, indeed, maintain,-erroneously as we believe, that a difference in education is the sole cause of all the differences existing among men. They hold that all persons come into the world just alike in disposition and capacity, though they go through it and out of it, so amazingly diverse. They hold, in short, that if any two men had changed cradles, they would have changed characters and epitaphs;-that, not only does the same quantity of substance or essence go to the constitution of every human mind, but that all minds are of the same quality also,-all having the same powers, and bearing, originally, the same image and superscription, like so many half-dollars struck at the government mint.
But deeply as education goes into the core of the heart and the marrow of the bones, we do not claim for it any such prerogative. There are certain substructures of temperament and disposition, which education finds, at the beginning of its work, and which it can never wholly annul. Nor does it comport with the endless variety and beauty manifested in all other parts of the Creator's works, to suppose that he made all ears and eyes to be delighted with the same tunes and