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attention paid there to what we believe has been too often neglected in this country-the education of the heart and feelings, as distinct from the cultiva. tion of the intellect. It may appear strange to English habits to assign so prominent a place in an educational institution to the following points, but the indication here given of the superior care bestowed in the formation of the character, to what is given to the acquisition of knowledge, forms in our view the chief charm and merit in this and several other Swiss seminaries, and is what we have labored to impress on the institution we have founded. To those who can enter into its spirit, the following extract will not appear tinctured with too sanguine views :
“The course of life in this seminary is three-fold.
"I place the family life first, for here the truest education is imparted; here the future teacher can best receive that cultivation of the character and feelings which will fit him to direct those, who are entrusted to his care, in the ways of piety and truth.
“A well-arranged family circle is the place where each member, by participating in the others' joys and sorrows, pleasures and misfortunes, by teaching, advice, consolation, and example, is inspired with sentiments of single-mindedness, of charity, of mutual confidence, of noble thoughts, of high feelings, and of virtue.
“In such a circle can a true religious sense take the firmest and the deepest root. Here it is that the principles of Christian feeling can best be laid, where opportunity is continually given for the exercise of affection and charity, which are the first virtues that should distinguish a teacher's mind. Here it is that kindness and earnestness can most surely form the young members to be good and intelligent men, and that each is most willing to learn and receive an impress from his fellow. He who is brought up in such a circle, who thus recognizes all his fellow-men as brothers, serves them with willingness whenever he can, treats all his race as one family, loves them, and God their father above all, how richly does such a one scatter blessings around! What earnestness does he show in all his doings and conduct, what devotion especially does he display in the business of a teacher! How differently from him does that master enter and leave his school, whose feelings are dead to a sense of piety, and whose heart never beats in unison with the joys of family life.
“Where is such a teacher as I have described most pleasantly occupied ? In his school amongst his children, with them in the house of God or in the family circle, and wherever he can be giving or receiving instruction. A great man has expressed, perhaps too strongly, 'I never wish to see a teacher who can not sing. With more reason I would maintain, that a teacher to whom a sense of the pleasures of a well-arranged family is wanting, and who fails to recognize in it a well-grounded religious influence, should never enter a schoolroom."
As we returned from the garden with the pupils on the evening of the first day, we stood for a few minutes with Vehrli in the court-yard by the shore of the lake. The pupils had ascended into the class-rooms, and the evening being tranquil and warm, the windows were thrown up, and we shortly afterward heard them sing in excellent harmony. As soon as this song had ceased we sent a message to request another, with which we had become familiar in our visits to the Swiss schools; and thus, in succession, we called for song after song of Nageli, imagining that we were only directing them at their usual hour of instruction in vocal music. There was a great charm in this simple but excellent harmony. When we had listened nearly an hour, Vehrli invited us to ascend into the room where the pupils were assembled. We followed him, and on entering the apartment, great was our surprise to discover the whole school, during the period we had listened, had been cheering with songs their evening employment of peeling potatoes, and cutting the stalks from the green vegetables and beans which they had gathered in the garden. As we stood there they renewed their choruses till prayers were announced. Supper had been previously taken. After prayers, Vehrli, walking about the apartment, conversed with them familiarly on the occurrences of the day, mingling with his conversation such friendly admonition as sprang from the incidents, and then lifting his hands he recommended them to ihe protection of heaven, and dismissed them to rest.
We spent two days with great interest in this establishment. Vehrli had ever on his lips :—"We are peasant's sons. We would not be ignorant of our duties, but God forbid that knowledge should make us despise the simplicity of our lives. The earth is our mother, and we gather our food from her breast, but while we peasants labor for our daily food, we may learn many lessons from our mother earth. There is no knowledge in books like an immediate converse with nature, and those that dig the soil have nearest communion with her. Believe me, or believe me not, this is the thought that can make a peasant's life sweet, and his toil a luxury. I know it, for see my hands are horny with toil. The lot of men is very equal, and wisdom consists in the discovery of the truth that what is without is not the source of sorrow, but that which is within. A peasant may be happier than a prince if his conscience be pure before God, and he learn not only contentment, but joy, in the life of labor which is to prepare him for the life of heaven.”'
This was the theme always on Vehrli's lips. Expressed with more or less perspicuity, his main thought seemed to be that poverty, rightly understood, was no misfortune. He regarded it as a sphere of human exertion and human trial, preparatory to the change of existence, but offering its own sources of enjoyment as abundantly as any other. “We are all equal,” he said, “ before God; why should the son of a peasant envy a prince, or the lily an oak; are they not both God's creatures ?"
We were greatly charmed in this school by the union of comparatively high intellectual attainments among the scholars, with the utmost simplicity of life, and cheerfulness in the humblest menial labor. Their food was of the coarsest character, consisting chietly of vegetables, soups, and very brown bread. They rose between four and five, took three meals in the day, ihe last about six, and retired to rest at nine. They seemed happy in their lot.
Some of the other normal schools of Switzerland are remarkable for the same simplicity in their domestic arrangements, though the students exceed in their intellectual attainments all notions prevalent in England of what should be taught in such schools. Thus in the normal school of the canton of Berne the pupils worked in the fields during eight hours of the day, and spent the rest in intellectual labor. They were clad in the coarsest dresses of the peasantry, wore wooden shoes, and were without stockings. Their intellectual attainments, however, would have enabled them to put to shame the masters of most of our best elementary schools.
Such men, we felt assured, would go forth cheerfully to their humble village homes to spread the doctrine which Vehrli taught of peace and conteniment in virtuous exertion; and men similarly trained appeared to us best fitted for the labor of reclaiming the pauper youth of England to the virtues, and restoring them to the happiness, of her best instructed peasantry.
A brother of Dr. Kay, in his “Education of the Poor in England and Europe,” thus speaks of Vehrli:
“I saw Vehrli twice. The first time I found him clad in a plain coarse tweed vest, at work upon his fields; and on my second visit, he was busily engaged with his boys in repairing the plain wooden furniture of his house, and the handles, &c., of his farming tools. He said to me, 'You must not expect to find any grandeur in our house; my boys are all to be engaged among our peasants, and I teach them to sympathize with those with whom they must associate hereafter, by accustoming them and myself to simple peasants' lives.' On my first visit I dined with him. The viands were of the plainest possible kind, but Vehrli reminded me that the laborer's fare was no better, and that therefore the laborer's companion and teacher ought to be satisfied. The result of this simple life is, that while in other parts of Switzerland, schoolmasters, who have been admirably instructed at Normal schools, but who have never had the advantage of the excellent discipline of the habits which Vehrli's pupils receive, often become discontented with the drudgery of a schoolmaster's life, the young men, who have left Vehrli's school, are found to persevere with cheerfulness and Christian enthusiasm in the work of instruction and social reformation.
Throughout Switzerland, Vehrli's school is looked on as the pattern, and in all the other Normal Schools they are gradually adopting his views relative to the education of the teachers.
I have thus particularly noticed the necessity of a great simplicity in the daily life of a pupil-teacher, as I fear this important part of a schoolmaster's training is almost entirely neglected in several of the few Normal schools we at present possess. We seem to imagine that it is a perfectly easy thing for a man, who has acquired habits of life fitting him for the
а higher circles of society, to associate with the poor, without any previous training. No mistake can be more fatal to the progress of the religious education of the poor. An instructed man, accustomed for several years to the society of intellectual professors and companions, without having any thing to remind him of, still less to habituate him to communication with, the humble class among whom he is afterward to live, must feel considerable reluctance, is not decided disgust, when he finds himself called on to associate with the simple, rude, and uneducated poor. To enable him to do this, requires as caresul a training as to enable him to teach ; and although men are found, whose sense of duty and whose Christian philanthropy triumph over the defects of their education, yet, in the majority of cases, the dissimilarity of tastes between the teacher and his associates, must at least curtail his power of doing good, even if it does not actually cause him to neglect altogether the principal of his duties, from that natural repugnance which he cannot surmount. To teach the poor effectively, we must choose the teachers from among themselves; and during their education we must continually accustom them to the humble character of their former lives, as well as to that of their future associates. The Roman Catholic Church has always clearly understood this truth. She has perceived from the first, with that sagacity which has marked all her worldly policy, that to obtain men who would really understand and sympathize with the poor, and who would feel no disgust for the greatest duty of a priest's life, the visitation of the meanest hovels, she must take her teachers from the poor themselves, and keep their minds continually habituated to a toilsome and humble life, whilst receiving education fitting them to be the religious teachers of the people. The greater part, therefore, of her priests are chosen from the poorer classes. The poor know that these priests can understand their necessities, can sympathize with their sufferings, and can visit their simple firesides without disgust. Whilst, therefore, the Roman Catholic peasant respects his priest for the sacred character of the office he fills and for the education he has received, there is none of that painful sense of separation between them, which exists, where the peasant feels that his religious minister belongs to another class and can never perfectly comprehend the situation, the wants, and the troubles of the poor. Still less does such a religious minister feel any difficulty in his communications with the poor. He visits the meanest hovel without disgust, he associates with the laborer without any danger of exhibiting an insolent air of worldly superiority, and knowing what a laborer's feelings are, he communicates with him without embarrassment, without reserve, and above all, without superciliousness.
In the Catholic cantons of Switzerland the priest is not only the spiritual adviser, but he is also the friend and companion of the laborer, and that too, naturally, without any difficulty to himself, and with infinite advantage to the poor. An Englishman would scarcely believe me, were I to describe how the priests, in the Catholic cantons, may be seen associating with the peasants.
In this country, where the clergyman is so far separated from the poor man by his station in society, his associations, habits, and education, it becomes doubly important that the schoolmaster of the Church should be a connecting link between the clergyman and his flock. He ought to be the adjutant of the clergyman, capable by his education to be indeed his assistant, and strictly united by his habits to the poor, among whom he ought with cheerfulness to labor.
Deeply grieved am I, then, to see that in some of our Normal schools we have not only abandoned the idea of labor being a necessary part of the discipline of a Normal school, but that we are accustoming the pupilteachers to manners of dress and living far, far above those of the poor, among whom they must afterward live, and with whom they ought continually to associate. The life of a pupil-teacher in a Normal school ought to be such, that when he leaves it for his village school, he shall find his new position one of greater ease and comfort than the one he has left, and that he may feel no disgust for the laborious drudgery that must fall to his lot in such a situation.
M. Prosper Dumont, in his treatise* on Normal Schools, published in Paris, in 1841, commends the Normal School of Vehrli, “as an excellent model for educating teachers for country schools." So profoundly was he impressed by the character of this practical educator, and the results of his teaching and example, that he regards Vehrli “as a beautiful example of the Normal teacher,-the religious and well-informed laborer, capable of demonstrating, in an unequivocal manner, to working men, that enlightened and elevated sentiments are not incompatible with manual labor. All is here combined to contribute to the education of a country teacher; the example is always placed by the side of the precept; all instruction is mutually connected, and illustrative of each other; the moral, mental, and physical development go along together. The whole atmosphere is pedagogic—the pupil teacher imbibes the spirit of his vocation at every pore.
That which strikes most is the happy application of the best principles of education, and the profoundly Christian spirit, with out ostentation, which characterizes every portion of the detail."
* M. Dumont received the prize offered by the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, in 1839, for the best discussion of the question: "What degree of perfection may the establishment of primary Normal Schools acquire, considering them in their re lation to the moral education of youth ?"
The title of the work is " De l'Education Populaire et des Ecoles Normales Primaires." Paris, 1841.