Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Arabs, and Greeks, who had been sent by their respective governments to these cities, for the express purpose of being educated for teachers in their native countries, if not for the whole people, at least for the favored few. At Constantinople a society has been formed for the promotion of useful knowledge, which publishes a monthly journal edited by one of the Turks who studied in Paris; and the Sultan now employs a French teacher in his capital, whom he espe cially invited from France. And here too in our own country, in the movements of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and several other of the states, we are strongly reminded of the educational zeal of the age.

In short the world seems to be awake and combining in one simultaneous effort for the spread of education; and sad indeed will be the condition of that community which lags behind in this universal march.

But I wish to direct your attention to the influence which these wide spread systems of education in the sovereignties of Europe, emanating from Prussia, must exert on our own institutions. The sovereigns to whom I have alluded, are not only educating the people, but they are laying aside the pomp, the trappings, and the lavish expenses of royalty, and by simplicity, by rigid economy, by an energetic and impartial administration of the government, are endeavoring to establish their thrones in the hearts of their people.

Frederick William, in his dress, appearance, and whole deportment, is as simple and unostentatious as an Ohio farmer; and few of our wealthy merchants ride in so plain a carriage, or sleep on so homely a bed as the monarch of Prussia. After witnessing the pageantry, the pomp and ostentation of the limited monarchy of England, one is astonished at the rigid simplicity of the great military despotism of central Europe.

In every stage of instruction it is made a prominent object, and one which is repeatedly and strenuously insisted on in all the laws pertaining to education, to awaken a national spirit-to create in the youthful mind a warm attachment to his native land, and its institutions, and to fix in his affections a decided preference for the peculiarities of his own country. Indeed the whole plan (which is well understood to have originated in Prussia, when the rapid spread of republican principles first began to threaten the thrones of Europe,)

evidently is to unite with the military force which always attends a despotism, a strong moral power over the understanding and affections of the people. In view of this fact, an able English writer denominates the modern kingdom of Prussia, "that wonderful machine of state-craft-as a mere machine the most remarkable in existenceon the model of which most European governments are gradually proceeding to reform themselves." Already has this plan so far succeeded, that there is evidently in these countries a growing disregard for the forms of free government, provided the substance be enjoyed in the security and prosperity of the people.

Republicanism can be maintained only by universal intelligence and virtue among the people, and disinterestedness and fidelity in the rulers. Republics are considered the natural foes to monarchies; and where both start up side by side, it is taken for granted that the one must supplant the other. Hence their watchful jealousy of each other. Now when we see monarchies strengthening themselves in the manner described, are not republics exposed to double danger from vice, and neglect of education within themselves? And do not patriotism and the necessity of self-preservation, call upon us to do more and better for the education of our whole people, than any despotic sovereign can do for his? Did we stand alone-were there no rival governments on earth-or if we were surrounded by despotisms of degraded and ignorant slaves, like those of the ancient oriental world; even then, without intelligence and virtue in the great mass of the people, our liberties would pass from us. How emphatically must this be the case now, when the whole aspect of things is changed, and monarchies have actually stolen a march upon republics in the promotion of popular intelligence ?

EFFORTS FOR EDUCATION IN RUSSIA.

In a former report, which was printed by order of the Legislature in 1836, I gave a synopsis of the governmental regulations in Prussia respecting education, and I have not found by investigations on the spot, that the statements then made require any essential modifica

2

tion. [See Appendix A.] I will here, however, take the liberty of stating some facts respecting the governmental efforts recently made in RUSSIA, to establish a system of popular education throughout that vast empire. These cannot but be deeply interesting to us, since Russia has so many points of resemblance, and of striking contrast to our own country. Like the United States, her dominion extends over an immense territory, comprising almost every variety of soil, climate, productions, and national character. Like ours, her educational institutions are comparatively new, and almost everything is to be begun in its elements; and, like us, she has received great accessions to her population by immigrants from almost every nation of Europe. Russia is unquestionably the largest and most powerful of despotisms; as the United States is the largest and most powerful of republics: and, while we enjoy the greatest political freedom that any government has ever permitted, she is held fast by the bonds of a severe autocracy. Add to this, Russia is the only European government, with the exception of Great Britain, whose territories border on our own. The fact, then, that a system of public instruction has been established in the Russian empire, is one of deep interest to us; and no less interesting will it be for us to know something of the nature of the system and of the means by which it is carried into operation.

The general system is that of Prussia, with such modifications as are necessary to adapt it to that widely extended, and, in some parts, semi-barbarous empire. For example, the whole empire is divided into provinces, each of which has a university-these provinces into academic districts, which are provided with their gymnasia for classical learning, and academies for the higher branches of a business education; and these academic districts are again subdivided into school districts, each with its elementary school. As the heart of the whole system, there is at St. Petersburg a model school for the education of teachers of every grade, for all parts of the empire. Of the Universities, six had already gone into operation in 1835, namely one at St. Petersburg, one at Moscow, one at Dorpat, in Livonia, one at Charkow, east of the river Dnieper, one at Kasan, on the Wolga, and one at Kiew. At other points Lyceums are established, with courses of study more limited than that of the

Universities; and there is an institution at Moscow, especially for the education of the nobility. Of course, I shall not be understood as recommending for adoption by us whatever I speak of with approbation in reference to foreign lands; for the different circumstances of nations require entirely different systems. It is the part of a wise legislator to examine all the improvements within his reach, and from the whole, to select those parts only which are adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the people for whom he legislates.

The different institutions in Russia are established as fast as the circumstances of the people admit; and as teachers can be found to supply them. At the date of the last report of the Minister of Public Instruction, the number of elementary and parish schools was about 12,000—of private schools, 430—and of gymnasia, 57.

The governmental regulations for cherishing in the people a desire for education, and directing them in the attainment of it, are wisely adapted to the purpose. The Minister of Public Instruction publishes a regular periodical journal, in which he gathers up all the facts, information and arguments, to which his official station gives him access, and circulates them extensively through the nation. To illustrate the good faith, diligence and liberal-mindedness with which he executes this part of his office, I would refer to the number of his journal for August, 1835, in which he notices, with great approba tion, the efforts of tract societies for the diffusion of moral and religious sentiments among the people, and mentions by name several publications of the American Tract Society, which have been translated into Russian, as having reached a third edition, and as being happily calculated to enlighten the intellect, and elevate the character of the people among whom they circulate. If the Minister of the Emperor Nicholas shows so much readiness to receive a good thing even from Democratic America, we surely will not be so narrow-minded as to spurn a good idea because it happened first to develope itself in Autocratic Russia. As a farther means of promoting education, every school director and examiner undergoes a rigid scrutiny as to his intellectual and moral fitness for those important trusts; and every candidate for civil office is strictly examined as to his attainments in those branches of learning requisite to the right performance of the official duties to which he aspires. As

common schools are new in the Russian Empire, and as schoolhouses are to be built in every part of it, the government, knowing the importance of having these houses well planned and put up, has appointed an architect, with a salary of 1000 rubles a year, for every academic district, whose whole business it is to superintend the erecting and fitting up of the district school-houses in his particular province. When we recollect how many of the evils of our district schools result from the bad construction and wretched furniture of our school-houses, how completely, by these defects, the efforts of the best teachers may be nullified, and the minds and health of children, as well as their comfort, destroyed, we cannot but acknowledge this to be, for a country where every thing is to be begun from its foundation, a most judicious arrangement.

Canals, and other public improvements of this kind, are now in great demand, and, to further them, an institution has been established for the express purpose of teaching the arts requisite in their construction; and young men who intend to devote themselves to this business, are taken from the other schools and placed in this institution at the public expense. Special provision, also, is made for instruction in agriculture, and all the kindred arts, in order that the natural resources of the country may be fully developed. That religious instruction may be efficient, and, at the same time, the rights of conscience remain inviolate, clergymen of different christian denominations, where the circumstances of the people require it, are employed as religious teachers in the schools, their services compensated by government, and their families provided for, if necessary. The importance of female teachers is recognized, and every encouragement is held out to young ladies to engage in this work. Private teachers are subject to the same rules, and the same strict inspection, as the teachers of public schools; and, what is an improvement on the Prussian plan, if the teacher of a private school becomes superannuated, or dies, in the service, his family are entitled to the same privileges as that of a public teacher, and receive pensions from the government adequate to their support and education. Thus all classes of faithful teachers are regarded and treated as public benefactors, and considered as entitled, not merely to a bare support while toiling and wearing themselves out in the public service, but to national remembrance and gratitude after their work is done.

« AnteriorContinua »