“Yes,” said the dunce, “are we not commanded in the holy book to preach the gospel to every critter?”
“Verily,” was the reply; “but every critter is not commanded to preach the gospel.”
So long as percentages obtained after “cramming” for examinations are the criterions which decide the accepting or rejecting of candidates for teaching positions, we must expect “critters” for the school guides of our children, who, like some of my own tutors, will
“Ram it in, cram it in—
Children’s heads are hollow;
Rap it in, tap it in—
Bang it in, slam it in
Calculus and mathematics,
Rhetoric and hydrostatics.
Stuff the school children, fill up the heads of them,
Send them all lesson-full home to the beds of them;
When they are through with the labor and show of it,
What do they care for it, what do they know of it?”
Joys and sorrows of school-days.
It was the custom in R——, and is now to quite an extent elsewhere, to elect as school committee those especially noted for their ignorance and unfitness for the duties, perhaps to keep them out of the almshouse, or to educate them by the absorption process while hearing pupils recite. These men were paid two dollars for each call they made at schools, consequently they “called” early and often, especially when the school ma’ams were young and pretty.
Here, as elsewhere, there was always a great fight at town-meetings for these school board positions, especially when the school-book agents became numerous, for these committees could secure from said agents unlimited free books, and get high prices for all their spavined horses, dried up cows, and sick pigs in return for voting for rival text-books.
As the committees were often unequal to the task of making out a course of study, pupils selected what studies they pleased, as suicidal a policy as it would be if, when you were sick and went to the physician for relief, he should point to a lot of different medicines, and tell you to pay your money, and take your choice.
As there was a cramming machine close by called an academy, whose sole object was to push students into Harvard College, of course the common schools must be “crammers” for the academy, and the result was, that we had no educational institutions whatever, and mental dyspepsia was well-nigh universal, a smattering of everything, a knowledge of nothing. As well might we pour food into the mouth by the peck, pound it down with a ramrod, and expect healthful physical growth.
Hundreds of poor parents are working themselves to death to send their children to such schools with a view to elevating them to “higher positions” than they themselves occupy, and soon we will have none to do the honest physical labor of life, but the world will be full of kid-gloved hangers on for soft jobs, who regard working with the hands to be a disgrace.