THE MOUNT VERNON SCHOOL.
Perhaps there is no way by which teachers can, in a given time, do more to acquire a knowledge of their art, and an interest in it, than by visiting each others’ schools.
It is not always the case that any thing is observed by the visitor which he can directly and wholly introduce into his own school, but what he sees suggests to him modifications or changes, and it gives him, at any rate, renewed strength and resolution in his work to see how similar objects are accomplished, or similar difficulties removed by others. I have often thought that there ought, on this account, to be far greater freedom and frequency in the inter-change of visits than there is.
Next, however, to a visit to a school, comes the reading of a vivid description of it. I do not mean a cold, theoretical exposition of the general principles of its management and instruction, for these are essentially the same in all good schools. I mean a minute account of the plans and arrangements by which these general principles are applied. Suppose twenty of the most successful teachers in New England would write such a description, each of his own school, how valuable would be the volume which should contain them!
With these views, I have concluded to devote one chapter to the description of a school which was for several years under my care. The account was originally prepared and printed, but not published, for the purpose of distribution among the scholars, simply because this seemed to be the easiest and surest method of making them, on their admission to the school, acquainted with its arrangements and plans. It is addressed, therefore, throughout to a pupil, and I preserve its original form, as, by its being addressed to pupils, and intended to influence them, it is an example of the mode of address and the kind of influence recommended in this work. It was chiefly designed for new scholars; a copy of it was presented to each on the day of her admission to the school, and it was made her first duty to read it attentively.
[Footnote 4: The author was still connected with this school at the time when this work was written.]
The system which it describes is one which gradually grew up in the institution under the writer’s care. The school was commenced with a small number of pupils, and without any system or plan whatever, and the one here described was formed insensibly and by slow degrees, through the influence of various and accidental circumstances. I have no idea that it is superior to the plans of government and instruction adopted in many other schools. It is true that there must necessarily be some system in every large institution; but various instructors will fall upon different principles of organization, which will naturally be such as are adapted to the habits of thought and manner of instruction of their