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hope that they will not forget the object which all have in view ; and that, out of all this agitation, there may come simple and feasible plans for correcting the evils arising from neglecting the body and overworking the mind. The views expressed by President Felton, on this subject, in his last Annual Report to the Overseers of Harvard College, contain so much good sense, sound wisdom, and true philosophy, that we take the liberty of inserting them in this place :
“ Physical exercise has of late years received a large share of public attention in connection with sedentary pursuits. This is right; and the public attention has been properly awakened to the importance of the subject. But no man ever killed himself by hard study alone. The exercise of the intellectual faculties is not only pleasurable but healthy. The brain is a physical organ; and the vigorous use of it in its appropriate function, as an instrument of the mind, conduces to bodily health. The statistics of life prove conclusively that diligent study tends to length of days. Many evils have resulted to sedentary men, not from study, but from the neglect of exercise; they have injured their health, and perhaps shortened their lives, by forgetting the laws on which the preservation of health and life depends; but these evils are now in a fair way of being remedied in our schools and colleges. The subject requires prudent management, or the introduction of the systems of exercise now recommended, will do as much harm as good. There is a tendency to exaggeration and extravagance. The language of some of the recent discussions seems to imply that muscular development is identical with moral, intellectual, and religious progress. It seems to be thought the panacea for all the evils under which humanity labors. Extraordinary feats of strength are heralded by the telegraph, as events on which the welfare of society depends. We have lately seen two great nations in a state of intense excitement, while awaiting the result of a brutal
conflict between two prize-fighters, whose chief merit was that of having beaten each other out of all resemblance to human beings. More surprising still the phrase, “muscular Christianity,” has become a current commonplace in the literature of the day, as if thews, sinews, and muscles, and not the Sermon on the Mount, contained the essential points of the Christian religion. These are the excesses to which ill-balanced judgments are constantly running. Bodily strength is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. It is a help to the intellect, but it is not identical with intellect. It facilitates the vigorous performance of the duties of life, without being the essence of morality and religion. But an abnormal condition of physical strength is neither good in itself, nor likely to prolong life. Many of those who have rendered the noblest services to humanity, who have achieved the most illustrious triumphs in art, literature, science, and philanthropy, have been men of delicate constitutions and feeble health. The amount of labor performed in the most exalted tasks has never borne any proportion to the muscular development. But it is not intended to say that physical vigor, and a healthy activity of all the forces of the body, are not proper objects of desire, and ought not to command the serious attention of those who have charge of the education of the young. Their importance was fully recognized by that nation to whom we owe the largest intellectual debt. But, on both moral and physical grounds, we must guard against extremes. “Nothing to excess," was an ancient maxim of universal application.
The wise men of antiquity applied it to this very subject, and they drew the line firmly, between proper gymnastic exercise for the cultivation of vigor and beauty, as curative processes and gentleman-like accomplishments, as a part of the education of the boy and the daily recreation of the man, on the one hand, and the training of the athletes on the other."
In former reports it has been stated that the School Committee have no control over the expenditure of any appropriation made for school-houses or furniture.
They do not decide upon the sites to be occupied, or the plan of the building. They cannot order desks or blackboards. They can only ask for what they think is needed. We have no reason to complain of any want of liberality, on the part of the City Government, in responding to these demands. But we desire again to record our opinion, that after the City Council has made an appropriation for a specific object connected with public instruction, the expenditure ought to be in the hands of the School Committee. Knowing the disadvantages arising from the selection of an unsuitable site, they would be less likely to place a school-house at the extremity of the district, on a noisy thoroughfare, or on a lot too small to secure light and air, or to afford grounds for recreation. They would take care that the school-houses should be devoted exclusively to the schools. They would be more prompt to remedy evils and to supply deficiencies. The largest and most important of the rooms occupied by the Normal School is used as a Ward Room. On every election day the exercises of the school are, necessarily, entirely suspended. The same use is made of several of our Grammar Schools. This singular usage, depriving the city, on certain days in every year, of the services of salaried teachers, often inflicting injury on the school buildings or furniture, interrupting the schools, and seriously hindering the progress of the pupils, has nothing to recommend it, except that it is an old Boston custom. It has been protested against, from time to time, by those interested in the schools. Let us hope that our City Government will see the wisdom of providing other rooms for political meetings and elections.
We refer to the Third Semi-annual Report of the Superintendent for an account of the present mode of appointing teachers. So great is the demand for situations that it is not uncommon for one hundred applicants to present themselves where but one can succeed. Even when no vacancy exists, the members of the Committee are beset with applications. The time and patience of both candidates and Committee are exhausted to no purpose. We heartily respond to Mr. Philbrick's suggestions, that a Special Committee, or Board, should be appointed for the purpose of examining all applicants and reporting upon their qualifications — the selection to be made from those whom they recommend, by the local committees, subject, as at present, to the approval of the whole Board. We would also propose that a diploma should be given to every young lady who has completed the course at the Normal School, in a manner satisfactory to the master and to the sub-committee of that school, specifying in what grade or kind of school she is qualified to instruct and this diploma should, for at least a limited time, be sufficient evidence of her acquirements and fitness to take the place of a teacher, without any further examination.
It would have been interesting, if our Superintendent had also described the imperfections and inequalities of our present system of examining schools. Each member of the Board must be supposed to have his own peculiar views of education, preferences of studies, and methods of questioning. One may err from excessive kindness; another from undue severity. Injudicious praise may blind a teacher to her faults.
Censure, although deserved, may discourage one who is timid, but faithful, and trying to improve. Might it not be better to appoint a Board, of whom the Super intendent should be one, to visit and examine, upon a uniform system, all the public schools of the city? The full reports of this Board would give to the members of the Committee a better knowledge of the schools than they now possess. And the District Committees would still visit the schools under their charge, and exercise a general supervision over them.
It has appeared to us that the attention of the master is, in some of our schools, confined too exclusively to the first division of the first class. It is natural that he should bestow the most of his time on those who are engaged in the highest and most difficult studies, whose maturer minds can derive most benefit from his instructions, and who at the end of the year are to be examined for admission to the High Schools. On their success his reputation depends. One effect of this arrangement is that all those pupils who leave before the last year of the course, never come under the master's
. The principal of a school should be acquainted with every scholar's peculiarities, abilities, and defects. He ought to be on the watch for the earliest appearance of faults to be corrected, and to know whom to urge and whom to restrain. In order to accomplish this he must leave the instruction of his most advanced pupils, in a great measure, to his head assistant; and divide his time among the several classes, and be present at the recitations in every department. This plan is pursued at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where, with a few exceptions, the Profes