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tainments at school, often arise as much from equal impatience and unsettled disposition in their parents, as deficiency of care in the masters, or want of order in their schools, In fact, there is little encouragement for masters, parents, or scholars; and, While this is the case, it is no wonder that ignorance prevails among
poor. Is it strange that the chariot wheels move heavily, when clogged with mire and dirt?--I am aware, that a schoolmaster must be a very drudge, who seriously endeavours to discharge his duty, and has the chief burthen of a large school resting on himself solely; and hence that disgust which arises in the minds of many against this employ, and that unwillingness the upright man feels to enter into a profession which bears an unpleasant prospect of toilsome labour, above his strength to support, however useful.—But why should it be so? Why the education of youth a more unpleasant employ than one in which the individual is connected and surrounded with dull, inanimate objects? What can be more pleasing than a large school of orderly and docile youth, whose minds are daily expanding by their own efforts, under a master's paternal care. The disgust that has arisen, in some minds against school-keeping, as a toilsome employ, applies not to a school conducted by a regular system, but is the consequence of that disorder which is so very prevalent in schools, and the natural effect of the whole responsibility and care
resting on the master; who, without method and order in the daily management of his school, is perplexed and harassed like a bull baited by dogs.
The mental powers of boys are similar to those of men; but in embryo. The same stimulus that animates men to action, will have a proportionate effect on juvenile minds.-" The hope of reward sweetens labour,” and the prospect of something to be attained in future, animates the mind to exertion. No class of men are more useful to society, or rendered more happy by their labours, than those whose hopes depend solely on their own exertions. In proportion as hope increases, exertion keeps pace with it, almost beyond conception. The very nature of expe&tation is to operate as a wire-drawing machine to human industry; and, in proportion as this sweetener of human toil is intermingled in our cup, so do we remit, or increase, our activity. Would the merchant trade, the mariner toil, or the husbandman plough, without the hope of profit, port, or harvest?—Every man has a stimulus to action, which varies with his prospects of retribution; and it is not in the power of our minds to conceive a more unhappy being, than he who has no wants; whose' wishes are completely gratified, or evidently incapable of gratification--such a being desponds from mere listlessness. To be destitute of hope, either from repletion or want, is to tread the threshold of despair; and, as the schoolmaster and
scholars we have been treating of, are mostly destitute of proper
incitements to industry, the state they are consequently in may be easily conceived.
In these schools, the number of scholars which attend them increases so much in summer, that it is impossible for the master to do them justice; then an assistant becomes necessary, but he cannot retain one long: for, as the scholars decrease in the winter, his income, of course, shrinks by their non-attendance; and perhaps poverty and misery stare him in the face; then his usher must be discharged, however useful or deserving, to get his living where he can.
With these dreary prospects, who would be a schoolmaster? What man of feeling for a beloved wife, and, perhaps, equally beloved children, would make such a sacrifice?-And, if men, whose feelings do honour to human nature, decline this task from prudential or commendable motives, in whose hands then is the education of the poor entrusted?-In the hands of those who would not do their duty if they had power; and of those who could not do it if they would, from inability; besides, system and order, the harbingers of success, are almost unknown
At a moderate calculation, among a million of persons inhabiting the metropolis, there are, at least, twenty-five thousand children who attend these schools, and cost their parents as many pounds
sterling, sterling, per annum. What a noble fund for education would this be, if properly employed. And how lamentable a thing it is, that a very large portion of it should be wasted, from irregularity in the parents, or want of judgment in the master : when the virtuous poor man toils, and stints himself, perhaps, in food, that his children may obtain useful learning, and they yet remain ignorant; their invaluable time lost beyond retrieve, and the fond parent cruelly disappointed.
May this plain statement of facts prevail on the friends of the rising generation to interpose for their welfare; that the education of children may no longer be to parent and master a lottery, in which the prizes bear no proportion to the enor: mous number of blanks.
Hints for the Reformation of the present System of
Education in Charity and other Schools.
It must be apparent, that any reformation in those schools already established by the public or individuals, as charity, or day schools, can only be gradual. It will be best effected by the public conviction of the necessity of it, and by de
monstrating to the teachers of youth the means; and enabling the rational and intelligent among them, to make the improvements so much wanted, with care to themselves, and without personal expence. Yet this, however desirable, is an arduous and important undertaking. It cannot be done by individuals, but requires public support of patronage, time, and money. These things premised, it remains to consider the spirit and manner in which they can be reduced to practice.
It fully appears, from the preceding accounts, that reformation in these schools is absolutely necessary; it remains to consider the means best suited to that end. As a friend of youth, I presumed, in the two former editions of this work, to suggest such hints as I have long thought adapted to the purpose, in hopes that, at least, it might pave the way for some better observations on the subject, from persons
of more information and discernment than myself. In this hope I have been disappointed, but now revive it; as conceiving it a matter of too much importance to society, to be left without further notice.
We must expect to find the teachers of youth under the same general disposition of mind, as is common to this nation.
A spirit, breathing the language of independence, is natural to Englishmen, few of whom are disposed