Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

system, furnishes them with a vast deal of knowledge concerning the operations and economy of nature, through which they might be directed to the contemplation of the Divine Being, who would thus not only be remembered in the lessons of the school, but be continually brought before their minds through every manual operation.

The following plan has been tried at Southam, in Warwickshire, under the direction of Dr. Smith, who writes-"My plan is simply this: I divide three roods ten poles of land into twelve gardens, which are occupied by boys from twelve to eighteen years of age, for the cultivation of vegetables-peas, carrots, cabbages, kidney beans, celery, parsnips, &c. I allow only one quarter to be cultivated for potatoes: they pay various prices, from sixpence to one shilling per month, according to the size-the rent for the whole amount is £4..17..0 per annum: the seventeen shillings I expend in our rent dinners, and a

of ale monthly when they bring their rent, which, I am glad to tell you, my dear little tenants have hitherto done to an hour. It was a glorious sight in the summer to see all the gardens so clean and full of stuff: I could have challenged it for produce and cleanliness against any acre of ground in the county. The moral advantages too have been very great; for instance, in this town we have 1200 inhabitants, the greater part of whom, being agricultural labourers, have been fully and fairly employed all the summer. There are about forty boys who have been at our national school, but who are not yet old enough to go to service: in the summer evenings, if unemployed, they are very apt to get into mischief; but my boys, since they have had a garden to resort to, have forsaken the streets, and are acquiring that sort of knowledge which is likely to become of service to them when they become men; their fathers and mothers, especially the latter, are made very happy, their cottages have been filled with good vegetables all the summer, at no expense to the father's strength or mother's care; for the boys, whilst they will work hard to procure the rent, are very willing to let their parents have the produce. This they sometimes pay the boys for and sometimes not, whichever they do it amounts to the same thing; if the boys sell the vegetables to their mothers, the money is laid out in clothing, so that saves the father's purse. If four acres of land could be procured for every forty boys, we should have the whole country smiling with health, activity, and content."

Now such a garden as this ought to be attached to every village school. The practicability of the thing is here clearly ascertained, being brought to the test of experiment. "The streets have been forsaken;" thus vicious company is avoided, the children's parents have been benefited in a pecuniary way, and this benefit has been afforded in a manner calculated to increase the love between a mother and her child. How sweet, how doubly sweet must have been the meal, in which the vegetables were procured by the industry of a child of tender years, and how doubly must such a child be endeared to its parents. All this is of a highly moral character, this is the education of the feelings, the cultivation of the heart. For six months in the year, the child's mind has been fixed on the flowers he shall gather, to ornament his parent's humble dwelling; the arms-full of cabbage,

and beans, and pease, and carrots, he shall take home to increase the comforts of that home, and the honest pride with which he shall show the produce of his labour to his neighbours and companions; he will bring them, as it were, an offering to the shrine of filial love, and in bringing them he will remember the happy toil he has bestowed upon them, recurring with feelings of delight to the hours in which he watched for the tender blade to spring up-how he rejoiced at the first signal of vegetation-how he transplanted, watered, and hoed, and trained, and guarded the plant as it grew, till he almost felt an affection for it, and rejoiced in its summer bloom and its autumnal ripeness :-These are feelings that must more or less be experienced, and rude as may be the expression of them, and uncouth as may be the manner in which they may be shewn, still they will have their effect; and withered indeed will be the age and shrunken will be the heart, that will cease to retain them; for they will be mixed with the most pleasing of the recollections of boyish days,-days which we recur to with a brief greenness of heart, when we are sinking on the arid deserts of dissappointment, or in declining years,-when we feel the maxim of the preacher, that "all is vanity," to be truth.

The following are among the principal ideas which have been entertained on the subject, and comprehend an outline of a simple agricultural and labour school for girls and boys:

1-.The object of such a school is to make industry the leading feature; to make it subservient to the formation of character, and the acquisition of as much knowledge as may be deemed necessary to render it beneficial to the neighbourhood; and to make it pay its own expenses.

2.-A piece of ground should be taken, of a sufficient size, according to the number of children. It should be the property of the owner of the school, or if on lease the landlord should pay for all improvements, at the expiration of the lease. A piece of waste land would not be objectionable (provided the soil were easy to cultivate), because it would be cheaper, and the result, if successful, would be more decided.

3. A man should be hired to cultivate the ground, part with the plough or spade, and part as a garden. He must be intelligent generally, and understand his business thoroughly; he should be of a kind disposition, and should understand and approve the objects of the school; he should undertake to communicate to the children all the knowledge he possesses, and consider their instruction as of still more importance than his manual labour; not, however, neglecting the latter; he should direct their labour in the most useful manner, both for the garden and themselves.

4.-A schoolmaster should be obtained for the direct teaching of the children. He must understand that the chief sphere of his teaching would be in the garden and workshops; making himself acquainted with the processes going on, and with the principles of gardening and farming, as well as the practice. By means of the interest which the child would feel in the objects before him, their nature and uses, much more would be learnt than through any system of book instruction not illustrated by visible and tangible facts. The qualities and produce of the soil, and the habits of the animals fed upon it, would naturally become subjects of inquiry, and afford opportunities of useful information. The schoolmaster must work with the children: when the gardener points out the work required for the garden, the master must distribute the work and superintend it; the children must work in groups, under monitors; as far as possible, each child must be employed, down to the very youngest, VOL. 1.-Jan. 1835.

D

who must have some work allotted, as picking stones, sticks, counting cab. bages, &c.

5.-The labour must be adapted to the age, and regular; at stated hours the children must adjourn to the school, or take lessons in the open air, according to the weather or convenience-there they would learn reading, &c. Great part of the lessons, exclusive of scriptural instruction, would consist of explanations respecting the objects animate and inanimate in the garden, taken from books adapted to this purpose. Besides gardening, the children should be taught such trades as local and other circumstances might render desirable : masonry, shoemaking, tailor's, carpenter's, and blacksmith's work, netting, knitting, &c. Some of these also might form direct subjects for instruction. 6.-The girls, under the direction of a competent superintendent, should be taught household work-washing, cooking, baking, &c.; they should not be exempt from out-door labour;-its healthiness is a recommendation for all.

7. A cottage must be found for the gardener and schoolmaster; but all the other buildings should be erected by the labour of those persons and the children. The convenience and comforts of the inmates should grow gradually, and in proportion to their own exertions. If instructed in classes they might use any small room, that could be obtained for their temporary accommodation. The first thing to be erected in addition, is a large shed; if this were began on a proper plan, it could be enlarged by degrees till it answered every purpose. The children could soon pave the floor with stones, if directed: the building would serve for workshops, and for a place of exercise in bad weather.

8. A great object would be to collect manure; cattle must be kept for this purpose, and every other means resorted to: the children might be usefully employed-sometimes in collecting and fetching it from a distance. The parents might be encouraged to keep pigs, and supplied sometimes with food for them, giving the manure in return.

9. Besides the regular work of the garden, &c. the children should have gardens of their own; the whole produce of which should be their own, to carry home to their parents. The children should be allowed to bring linen from home to wash, and to make articles of furniture for presents to the parents, or to mend any articles about the house.

10. The objects of the school should be fully and patiently explained to the parents, who should be invited to second them; the privilege of purchasing the garden produce, as well as the manufactories of the school, at a lower price, from the school-shop, should be offered to the parents; and the rewards of the children should be composed of such articles as would be valuable to their families. Give the parents, in short, as great an interest as possible in the school, as experience points out the best mode of doing it. Let them feel the school to be, as it were, their own. Let them see that they reaped all the advantage, except in the gradual improvement of the property, but let this improvement benefit them in a palpable manner. Here they might bring their assistance, viz. labour, to the school, as a common fund; a deposit of labour to be returned in produce, or in education to the children. Whatever trade a parent exercised, let him, at his leisure time, give his labour or instruction to the school: the complaint is the parent cannot get employment; then he would have more time to give to the school. Invite a stocking-maker or weaver, &c. from an over-peopled manufactory, to settle near the school, teach the children his trade, work for the neigbourhood, and vary his labour or work at leisure hours in the garden: his health, comfort, and character, would improve. It would be easy to keep a labour account of hours against every one who gave his labour to the garden; this would be valued and paid in produce. 11. As the children would improve daily, and their labour become more valuable the longer they stayed, it would be right to enter into a contract with the parents to continue the children at the school a certain number of years.

This would not only repay the school more completely, but would promote the general objects of the establishment, the formation of good habits, and the acquisition of practical knowledge.

12. Of course tools of all sorts must be provided by the proprietor; the mode in which he would look for remuneration, would be the payment of the children, their labour in garden produce, and the permanent improvement in land and buildings. He would also form a collection of books for the school, containing the requisite information on the subject of their labours.

13. The Bible should not be made a class-book, but read at stated times, as a book of divine instruction, and proper passages learned out of it. Doctrinal religion should not be taught in the school, but what is taught should be entirely practical and made to go hand in hand with the work.-There should be a plan of the garden and premises, this plan should be studied in the school, and would exemplify the elementary principles of land-measuring, &c. Each boy, as he grew old enough, should make one for himself, on a reduced scale. The children should learn the distances, in feet, of all parts of the garden, and the number of square feet in the whole and in each part, the plants growing in each bed, their number, and value, &c. The children should be allowed to propagate plants for themselves, for pleasure, or for sale; and in the course of time might have the means of erecting a green-house.-Exact registers should be kept of all the occupations and expenses of the school; these should form the study of the children, and from them the arithmetical sums should be chiefly taken.

14. A savings' bank should be established in the school for the children.

With similar views, not however so much in detail, Mr. Hull, of Uxbridge, has endeavoured to show that schools on this principle might be made to support themselves. Mr. Hull proposes that a school-room, forty feet long and twenty feet wide, should be built, the cost of which would be about £300, to contain boys and girls. That a certain number of acres of land should be attached to the school, to be cultivated by the master, assisted by the boys who are capable of working; and that the produce of the land, with a small weekly fee from the children, and the keeping of a cow and a few pigs, would be sufficient for the support of the master and family, which would render subscriptions for the support of village and day-schools almost unnecessary. The expense of starting an institution on this plan, may thus be estimated, for the first year :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

£. s. d.

5 0 0

[blocks in formation]

Fitting up with school furniture

Labour for twenty-five boys through the year

Firing and other expenses

Manure for four acres of land, per year
Rent of land and tithes, £2 per acre

...

............

Salary to master and mistress, per year...............
Tools, seed, &c.

...........

30 0 0

20 0

10 0

10 0 0

8 0 0

20 0 0

10 0 0

£118 0 0

After the first year the whole expense to be defrayed by the committee would be as follows:

[blocks in formation]

After the first year the master must furnish seed, keep up the stock of tools, and supply manure for the garden. He will then have to look to the following sources for the maintenance of himself and family:

Twopence per week each for 150 boys and girls
Net profits arising from the produce of the
four acres of land, after paying for seed,
manure, labour of boys, &c. (with cottage
rent free)

[ocr errors]

£. S. d.
60

0 0

30 0 0

£90 0 0

Mr. Hull remarks—that “In some places a cow and pigs will be of advantage; that not more than twenty-eight boys out of one hundred will be fit to labour in a profitable manner, and that that labour will not be more than two hours per day, varying, of course, according to the weather, and the season of the year; and that if they are paid at the rate of a penny an hour, they will consider this a fair remuneration; and supposing them to be employed 100 out of the 365 days, each boy will have to receive sixteen shillings at the end of the year." But we may assume, as we know from experience-having tried the scheme of cultivating land on our own grounds, by schoolboys-that much more than two hours a-day would be necessary for a boy to cultivate one twenty-fifth part of four acres of land, although assisted by the master. It would require at least three hours a-day, through nine months in the year, allowing six days a week, which would amount to 648 hours, which, at one penny per hour, would give £2..10..8 to each; but a halfpenny an hour would be sufficient remuneration, which would reduce the payment to the boys to about ninepence per week for thirty-six weeks, amounting to £1..5..4. Mr. Hull advocates the British and Foreign system; but it is quite immaterial under which system a school of this kind, in an agricultural district, is conducted. In addition to what has been suggested, we should recommend an extensive cultivation of flowers, and that the children should be made acquainted with so much of botanical knowledge as would enable them to tell the name, class, order, and species of a plant. One important recommendation found in the thirteenth proposal, is much to our minds: the careless irreverence which is generally paid in schools to the Book of Divine Revelation, and the continual reading of it as a task, has an effect not at all calculated to be beneficial in a religious point of view; it ought to be made a serious exer

« AnteriorContinua »