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Full text of "Annual report of the Trustees of the Charlestown Free Schools"

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



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MAJORITY AND MINORITY 



REPORTS 



MADE TO 



THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE 



OF THE 



CITY OF CHARLESTOWN 



MAY 24, 1848, 



UPON THE 



PETITION OF WILLIAM EAGER AND OTHERS, 



FOR 



A SEPARATION OF THE SEXES IN THE HARVARD SCHOOL. 



BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY TUTTLE & DENNETT, 

No, 21 School Street. 

1848. 



MAJORITY REPORT. 



To THE Chairman of the Trustees of the Charlestown Free 
Schools, — 

A majority of the Committee to -whom was referred the Petition of 
William Eager and one hundred and seventyfive others, residents in 
the Harvard School District, praying that " the details of the Regula- 
tions of the School Committee be so altered as to allow the girls to 
occupy one Hall in the Harvard School House, and the boys the other, 
under their respective Teachers/' beg leave to submit the following 
Report : — 

As the Petitioners had said in their Petition that there were objec- 
tions to the present arrangement of the Harvard School of a strong, 
serious, and decisive character, without specifying in any way what 
those objections were, it was decided at the first meeting of your Com- 
mittee, to request the Petitioners to hand in a written statement of these 
objections. A Letter, previously prepared by the Chairman of the 
Committee, was accordingly addressed to Mr. William Eager, whose 
name was at the head of the Petitioners. It was also agreed to send a 
circular which had been prepared by the Chairman of the Committee, 
to the Masters of the Grammar Schools of the City, requesting, in a 
series of questions, their opinions of the result of the change in the 
arrangement of the Schools. Copies of the letter to Mr. Eager, and of 
the Circular to the Masters, are herewith given, and they, together 
with the "brief summary of reasons," handed in by the Petitioners in 
reply to the letter to Mr. Eager, and the answers of the several Mas- 
ters to the Circular, are annexed hereto and made a part of this Report. 

In the consideration of the subject-matter of the Petition, the ma- 
jority of your Committee have endeavored to examine candidly the 
arguments in favor of, and those against, the present arrangement of 
the Grammar Schools in this city, and of the old arrangement, to 
which, for convenience sake, they have given the names of the Mixed 
System, and the Separate System ; and they have come to their con- 



elusion partly from those reasons which the nature of the case must 
suggest to every one ; partly from their personal experience in Schools 
and in the oversight of Schools, and partly from the authority and ex- 
perience of Teachers and friends of Education. This authority and 
experience must be co-extensive with the spread of Education and the 
existence of Teachers. But this it would be impossible, even if it 
were desirable, to obtain. That which the majority of your Committee 
would now present to the Board, consists of the replies of the Masters 
of the Grammar Schools in this city to the Circular of your Committee, 
and the answers of some of the Masters of the Salem Schools, to a 
communication from a member of your Committee. The reply of a 
gentleman of Boston, of much experience in Education, to a similar 
communication, is also given. It should, however, be stated that the 
only written authority of Teachers, &c., before the whole Commit- 
tee, was that of the Masters of the Grammar Schools in this city, 
although the substance of the opinions of the Salem Teachers, as 
derived from personal interviews with them, was mentioned in 
committee. The letters, the replies to which are herewith present- 
ed for the information of the Board, and connected by the ma- 
jority of tlie Committee with their Report, were addressed to the 
Salem Teachers after the last meeting of the whole Committee, in 
order to present their opinions to the Board in an authentic and definite 
form ; and letters were sent to the Salem Teachers particularly, be- 
cause Mixed Sc-hools have been for a long time in operation in that city, 
a place in many respects like Charlestown. 

As these letters are all before your Board, and as they will be read 
for your information, the majority of your Committee do not think it 
necessary to state in detail the different means of information which 
the different teachers have had, or the different conclusions to which 
they arrive. The majority of your Committee would only say gen- 
erally, and once for all, that in their opinion, both as respects more 
extended sources of information and a larger experience, the weight 
of authority is decidedly against the Mixed System, and in favor of 
the Separate System. 

The arguments adduced in favor of the Mixed System are, that it 
favors discipline, making the Schools more easy to be governed ; — that 
it stimulates both sexes to exertion and increases the amount of study, 
and that it renders both sexes more chaste and circumspect in their 
language, and more attentive to their dress and personal appearance. 

This statement embraces, so far as the majority of your Committee 
recollect, the arguments in favor of the Mixed System, and these they 
propose to examine briefly, in detail. 

And first, as regards discipline. It cannot be said that heretofore the 



discipline has been bad in the Schools of Charlestown, or that good 
order is not now kept in the Schools of Boston, and of other places 
where the Separate System prevails. The first thing to be taught in 
any School is obedience. The Master who does not teach obedience, 
or who fails in government, is not fit to be a Master. Obedience must 
be taught as a fixed principle and rule, and must be required unhesi- 
tatingly and implicitly of all scholars, whether boys or girls, whether 
in Mixed or in Separate Schools. The argument, then, that the Mixed 
System favors discipline, has little or no weight in settling the question 
at issue, for perfect discipline can be kept and is kept, in Separate 
Schools, and the difficulties in the way of discipline are such that a 
teacher who could not keep a Separate School in discipline, could not 
control a Mixed School. Indeed, the argument does not state that the 
Mixed System is necessary to discipline, but only that it favors disci- 
pline. On this point, the majority of your Committee believe that the 
Mixed System renders the discipline more difficult, for two reasons. 
It gives incitement and opportunity for the commission of offences 
which are the inevitable result of the union of the sexes in the same 
room, that would never be thought of in Separate Schools, and at the 
same time it makes the punishment of all offences more difficult, 
from the different modes of discipline necessary for the two sexes. If 
a boy and girl commit the same offence, it may be necessary to use 
the rod upon the boy, while a different punishment would produce the 
desired effect upon the girl. If the teacher makes a difference be- 
tween the sexes in the punishment of the same offence, he is accused 
of partiality, and the punishment loses most of its effect ', while, if he 
makes the flesh of the girl quiver under the rod or the ferule, he is 
liable to be charged with undue severity. The majority of your Com- 
mittee would subject neither the discipline of the Schools to such peril, 
nor the Masters to such an unpleasant alternative. 

Secondly. The argument that it stimulates both sexes to exertion 
and increases the amount of study, is thought to be untrue in its full 
extent, and it is considered one that, from the necessary evils conse- 
quent upon it, should have no decisive influence in favor of the Mixed 
System. The argument must be founded upon this, — that the best 
scholars of a class help on the poorer ones, and that as a general rule, 
girls of a certain age are quicker to learn and better scholars than boys 
of the same age, and so, if put in a class of boys, will aid the class. 
The principle here stated is undoubtedly correct, but it is incorrectly 
applied. Good scholars in a class do help the poorer ones ; but it is 
not necessary that all the good scholars should be girls, and that the 
poor ones should be boys ; nor is it invariably the case that the good 
scholars are girls, and that the poor ones are boys. The working of the 



6 

principle is as satisfactory and as advantageous, where the two grades 
of scholars in a class are of the same sex, as where they are of differ- 
ent sexes ; and the reason, in the opinion of the majority of your Com- 
mittee, why the two grades of scholars may as well be of the same 
sex, is, that any peculiar influence of the different sexes that may be 
relied on as the immediate consequence of the Mixed System, will 
fail when the novelty of the affair is worn off, and when the sexes are 
accustomed to each other's presence from their first entrance into the 
primary schools. But there is another side to this question. In the 
same proportion that the boys are helped, the girls will be injured, for 
the influence is reciprocal ; and where the good scholars help the poor 
ones, the poor ones are a drawback and a weight upon the advance- 
ment of the good ones. And, in the opinion of the majority of your 
Committee, no advantage should be sought for the one sex which 
brings with it an equal and corresponding evil to the other sex. 

The argument that the Mixed System makes both sexes more chaste 
and circumspect in their language, must have reference to the deport- 
ment of the sexes out of the school-room, if it has reference to any 
thing ; for, in the school-room, the only language permitted is that of 
the recitation, w^here answers are given to the questions of the Master ; 
and it is not easily seen how, in the recitations in Schools under the 
Separate System, under the eye and in the hearing of the Master, 
there can be any improprieties of speech or manner which the pre- 
sence of pupils of the other sex would be necessary to correct or im- 
prove. But if the argument has reference to the language of the play- 
ground or street, the majority of your Committee have not yet been 
shown how the intermixture of the sexes makes either sex more 
chaste or circumspect in its language or manners, while engaged in 
the rough plays of thoughtless childhood. 

So in regard to the remaining reason assigned in favor of the Mixed 
System. If the children of the different sexes are neat and attentive 
to their personal appearance because they are to be seen by the other 
sex, and for this reason only, a low and unworthy inducement is held 
out to the sexes for the formation of these important habits, while, as 
the principle can act only in the presence of the two sexes, it must be 
inoperative when they are separated, and the opposite habits might 
be formed. Besides it is by no means admitted that habits of neatness 
cannot be formed in separate schools, and that they have not been so 
formed in previous years. It is not know^n that there has been any 
complaint upon this subject. The majority of your Committee are of 
opinion that under the Mixed System there would be but few, if any, 
instances in these respects, and they think that it may well be 
questioned whether the feeling that makes boys or girls, who when 



in separate Schools were untidy and inattentive to their personal 
appearance, suddenly go to the other extreme, does not arise from 
a disposition to gallantry which no parent could wish to see fostered in 
our public Schools. 

If, as the majority of your Committee believe, the above opinions 
and reasoning are correct, the arguments adduced in favor of the 
Mixed System are inconclusive, and open to objections which utterly 
destroy their weight. 

But, besides, there are objections to the Mixed System which the 
majority of your Committee believe the Petitioners have rightly 
described in their '' brief summary of reasons," as being of a strong, 
serious and decisive character. The majority of your Committee 
would refer generally to that '^ brief summary" and will also briefly 
state the objections to the Mixed System which press most strongly 
and decisively upon their minds. 

And first in respect to Instruction. The difhculties which present 
themselves in regard to discipline have been heretofore stated — and now 
the objections are given in respect to Instruction purely. In the opinion 
of the majority of your Committee a wise plan of Education points out 
a different course of Instruction for the different sexes. They believe 
with the Petitioners that girls should not be instructed as though they 
were to be our '' future engineers, merchants, navigators, lawgivers and 
rulers," but that they should be so taught as to perform appropriately 
the peculiar duties of their sex. The majority of your Committee do 
not think it necessary to enlarge upon this point ; for they suppose 
that its truth is generally admitted. Nor do they consider that by 
the establishment of the High School for advanced scholars, the 
force of this argument is materially weakened, for they have always 
understood that the establishment of the High School was not intended 
to degrade the Grammar Schools. At any rate the argument will 
apply in its full force to a large class of scholars who will, from 
necessity, receive all their Education in the Grammar Schools. And 
if the course of Instruction for the different sexes ought to be different, 
the separate system is the only one that can be used to advantage. 
Another difficulty in the Schools under the Mixed System, will arise 
from the nature of some of the studies taught. It is thought to be the 
universal opinion that Physiology, for instance, should be taught to 
some extent at least in all the Grammar Schools. No prudent teacher 
would venture to instruct boys and girls in this subject in the same 
class, or even in the same room. 

Secondly, in respect to morals. Here the majority of your Commit- 
tee think that the effect of the Mixed System is decidedly bad. In 
small schools in towns of sparse population, and even in couirtry 



8 

villages where the scholars and the parents of the scholars are all 
known to each other, the evils may be less felt, and more easily- 
corrected. But in the large Schools of densely populated maritime 
citiesj which it is alike the boast and glory of our Common School 
System are open to all, where children of every grade and those 
subject to all sorts of influences at home meet together, the evils 
necessary to the Mixed System are greatly increased. The majority 
of your Committee will state what some of these moral evils are. 
No one who knows boys, it is thought, can deny, that, as a general 
rule, by the time they reach the age of twelve years, and with many 
at a much earlier period, they have become familiar with the common 
words of vulgarity, obscenity and profanity — with the last perhaps to a 
less extent. How far this evil extends, in reference to the first two 
vices, to the other sex no definite opinion is ventured, but it is feared 
that the contamination is more deeply spread than is generally 
supposed. It is also believed to be true that a large proportion of 
the words of vulgarity and obscenity have reference to sexual differ- 
ences ; and that these words are nowhere spoken more freely and 
unblushingly than when children are collected in large numbers as 
at schools, and they rarely collect in so large numbers elsewhere. 
The constant, daily, presence of the other sex is continually recalling 
these sexual peculiarities, and the impure ideas associated with them. 
And certainly in the opinion of the majority of your Committee, 
neither sex should be unnecessarily exposed to this peril. The 
impurity will exist, it is to be feared, in separate schools, but it may 
slumber at times, while in schools under the Mixed System, the 
flame is constantly fed. These evils exist even when no improper 
words or communications pass between the sexes, and when such 
communication is had the evil is increased. That such communica- 
tion is had, even in spite of the vigilance of the most faithful master, 
it is not doubted. Discoveries are made by the teacher rarely, while 
the successful instances of deception are known, if not to the School 
at large, at least to the little coterie around the. wrong doer. The 
effect of these illicit communications both upon discipline and morals 
is equally demoralizing. 

There are other objections to the Mixed System which, from their 
delicacy, cannot be urged in a written report with the precision and 
distinctness to which they are entitled. The Board cannot fail to per- 
ceive, however, that embarrassment to both teachers and pupils may 
arise from causes over which nature alone has control. 

The above conclusions of themselves would be sufficient to convince 
the majority of your Committee that the prayer of the Petitioners 
should be granted. They also present another consideration for a re- 



9 

turn to the old; or Separate System, which, in their opinion, would be 
conclusive in a case even more nicely balanced than the present, and 
that is, the wishes, temperately and strongly stated, of so large a pro- 
portion of the residents in the Harvard District. Whatever evil may 
result from the Mixed System, will fall on them through their 
children, and their warning voice should certainly be heard, when 
they would attempt to avert the impending danger. 

The majority of your Committee, therefore, recommend that the 
prayer of the Petitioners be granted, and that the boys occupy one 
room of the Harvard School House, and the girls the other, under their 
respective Teachers. 

Respectfully submitted, 

CHAS. W. MOORE, | Majority of the 
GEO. P. SANGER, ) Committee. 
Charlestoim, May 24th, 1848. 



APPENDIX TO MAJORITY REPORT. 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH PETITIONERS. 

CharlestowNj May 1, 1848. 
Dear Sir: 

The petition from yourself and others to the School Committee 
of this City, to change the existing school arrangement, so far as that 
the girls in the Harvard School may occupy one of the rooms and the 
boys the other, has been referred to a sub-committee. This sub-com.- 
mittee will be happy to avail of any information that you possess upon 
the subject and which you maybe pleased to communicate in writing. 
Especially will it be obliged, if you will inform it what those objections 
to the present plan which you deem of a "'strong, serious and decisive 
character," are. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your obt. servt., 

In behalf of the sub-committee, 
(Signed,) SETH J. THOMAS. 

Wm. Eager, Esq.^ 

Present. 



Charlestown, May 8th, 1848. 
To the School Committee of the City of Charlestown : 

Gentlemen — Some of the inhabitants of Ward No. 1, petitioners 
for the restoration of the former mode of instructing children by a sep- 
aration of the sexes, ask leave to present to you in aid of their petition, 
a very brief summary of the reasons which have induced them at this 
time to press the matter upon the serious consideration of your Board. 

They object to the new plan of uniting the boys and girls in the 
same departments and classes for instruction ; 

1st. Because it is a variation from a known, well-tried and well- 
approved method of instruction in cities and other places of dense 



14 

ANSWERS TO THE FOREGOING QUESTIONS. 

Charlestown, May 3, 1848. 
Dear Sir : — Yours was received yesterday afternoon. Before answer- 
ing the questions proposed, allow me to say, that my experience in Mixed 
Schools has been in the country, and conclusions formed there may not 
be thought valuable here. 

Still, in the short trial since our change was made, I have seen no rea- 
son to modify former opinions, and can frankly say, — 

I think the union of boys and girls in the same room tends to good 
order and government in the school ; and that the influence upon the hab- 
its, manners and morals of the two sexes is favorable, rather than other- 
wise. 

I do not know any decisive objections to this arrangement. 
The experience of so short a time cannot furnish very valuable data, 
but I see no reasons for a change. 

I am, dear sir, your ob't serv't, 

C. S. PENNELL. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 

Charlestown, Mass. 



Warren School, No. 2, Charlestown, May 3, 1848. 
Dear Sir, — Your inquiries, addressed to me in a note of the 1st inst., 
have been received ; and in answer to the first, I will state, that the or- 
der of my school has improved, and it is more easily disciplined than 
formerly, — whether in consequence of the union of the sexes or other- 
wise, I am not able to say. 

2d. In regard to its influence on the manners, habits and morals of the 
pupils, suflicient time has not elapsed, to enable me to determine with 
much accuracy, but I have seen nothing unfavorable thus far. 

3d. I have seen no " strong, serious and decisive objections" to this 
plan, that could not be urged as strongly, seriously and decisively, against 
any other plan of school organization. 

4th. In the limited experience that I have had, under this plan, in the 
Warren School, I have seen nothing to satisfy me that a change should 
be made. 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

JOSEPH T. SWAN, 

Prin. Warren School, No. 2. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 



Charlestown, May 6th, 1848. 

Dear Sir, — In answer to the questions proposed in your note of the 1st 
inst., I would say — 

1st. That, in my opinion, the union of the boys and girls in the same 
room, does tend to good order and government in the schools. 

2d. That the influence of this union upon " the manners, habits and 
morals of the two sexes, so far as I have observed," is, in general, decid- 
edly favorable. 

3d. There are, as I think, no serious objections to it. 
4th. I am satisfied that this union should be continued. 
I am, Sir, with great respect. 

Your humble servant, 

WM. C. BRADLEE, 
Col. S. J. Thomas, 

Member of Com'tee of Charlestown Free Schools. 



15 

Charlestown, May 8, 1848. 

Seth J. Thomas, Esq., — Dear Sir: — In answer to the questions con- 
tained in your note of the 1st inst., I reply, that from the results of my 
own experience and observation, I believe the presence of each sex in a 
school, as every where else, has, to some extent, a restraining and salu- 
tary influence upon the other, — and thus tends, indirectly at least, to good 
order and government. 

I will not say that the evils of improper communication may not arise 
in a school thus organized ; but I believe their occurrence will not be 
be more frequent than where the sexes are separated, — while the remedy 
may be applied much more readily, and with more efficiency in the for- 
mer than in the latter. 

Viewing the subject in this light, I must say, that I believe " its influ- 
ence upon the manners, habits and morals of the two sexes" to be favor- 
able ; that I know of no " strong, serious and decisive objections" to it j 
and that my experience under this plan has been such as to satisfy me 
that it had better be continued — in my own school, at least. 
I am yours, very respectfully, 

B. F. TWEED. 



Charlestown, May 8, 1848. 

Dear Sir,— In replying to the questions in your favor of last week, I 
would say — 

1. That in my judgment, the union of both sexes in the same school- 
room, does tend to good order and government in the school. 

2. That its influence upon the manners, habits and morals of the two 
sexes, IS, so far as I have observed, favorable. 

3. That in my opinion, there are no strong, serious and decisive objec- 
tions to it. 

4. An experience of eight years, under this plan, satisfies me that it 
had better be continued. 

I am, dear Sir, yours, very respectfully, 

WM. S. WILLIAMS. 
Col. Seth J. Thomas. 



Charlestown, May 10th, 1848. 

Dear Sir, — I take pleasure in submitting to you the following reply to 
the questions proposed in your communication of May 1st. 

It is generally admitted, I believe, that the presence of either sex natu- 
rally operates as a restraint upon the other, and so far as my experience 
serves me, the principle applies to the reciprocal influence of children of 
different sexes in the same room. I should, therefore, say, that " the 
union of boys and girls in the same school room, tends to good order and 
government in the school." 

The society of the sexes at school will serve, I have no doubt, to modi- 
fy the deportment of each, mutually inciting both to habits of neatness in 
their personal appearance, and rendering them more circumspect and 
chaste in their language and manners ; and since by the present system, 
they are directly under the eye of one instructor, and wholly within his 
jurisdiction, should any improper communication between them, some- 
times occur, a more favorable opportunity is afforded for detection and 
remedy, than if they were in separate rooms and accountable to different 
teachers. I am led to conclude, therefore, that " the influence of the 
union upon the manners, habits and morals of the two sexes," is favora- 
ble. 



16 

If the above opinion is correct, I am, of course, unable to see any 
" strong, serious and decisive objections" to the system recently estab- 
lished ,■ and my experience thus far of its effects, has not "been such as 
to satisfy" me " that it had better be changed." 
Yours, respectfully, 

STACY BAXTER. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 



Charlestown, May 12, 1848. 
Dear Sir, — In reply to your note of May 1, I would say, — 

1. I think that the union of boys and girls in the same school-room, 
does tend to good order and government. 

2. Its influence upon the manners, habits and morals, is not, in my 
opinion, generally favorable. 

3. The greatest objection to the system is its moral tendency. 

4. If children [of both sexes] must attend school in the same building , 
I should prefer to have them in the same room also. 

Yours, respectfully, 



Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 



J. P. AVERILL. 



QUESTIONS PROPOSED TO TEACHERS IN SA- 
LEM. 

1st. " Hovi^ long have you been a teacher in a Mixed Public School in 
Salem ?" 

2d. " Is the presence of both sexes conducive to better order and 
government than could otherwise be secured?" 

3d. " Does it stimulate either sex to increased study and industry?" 

4th. " Does it, or not, tend to the improvement of the morals and 
manners of either sex ?" 

5th. " Is your opinion generally favorable to the system of Mixed 
Schools and would you recommend them as preferable to others ?" 



ANSWERS TO THE ABOVE. 

Salem, 20th May, 1848. 
Chas. W. Moore, Esq., 

Dear Sir, — Your favor of yesterday is before me, and I will endea- 
vor to answer your interrogatories as distinctly as I can in the very limi- 
ted time I can now devote to them. I will copy your questions and fol- 
low each with such remarks as I may think pertinent. 

1st. " How long have you been a Teacher in a Mixed Public School in 
Salem ?" Upwards of seven years, and during the five years immediately 

S receding I was engaged in a similar School in the adjoining town of 
•anvers. 
2d. "Is the presence of both sexes conducive to better order and gov- 



17 

ernment than could otherwise be secured ?" As a whole, I think not. 
Under question fourth or fifth I will say more bearing on this point. 

3d. " Does it stimulate either sex to increased study and industry ?" 
It may, and probably does, a certain number of the older pupils, but I 
think not generally. If scholars of the different sexes are brought to- 
gether, for the first time, at the age of 12 or 14 years, I doubt not that 
the relation might tend to stimulate to greater interest in the preparation 
of School exercises, but if they come together and remain together, 
from the commencement of their School days, I think but little if any 
benefit would accrue from the particular under consideration. 

4th. " Does it, or not, tend to the improvement of the morals and 
manners of either sex ?" I do not know that I feel prepared to give my 
opinion very decidedly on this point. In some particulars the union 
may exert a favorable influence, but I cannot say that I think it, as a 
whole, very beneficial. Good boys and girls might mutually encourage 
and stimulate each other, but I very much doubt if heedless or lewd 
boys and girls would be improved ; and one or two of this latter class, 
of either sex, will exert a most deleterious influence upon a whole 
school. 

In my own experience I have never had any marked cases which 
would decidedly aid me in coming to a very definite conclusion on this 
point. I have, in one or two instances, detected slight deviations from 
the path of modesty and propriety, but as a whole we have had no cause 
for complaint. 

5th. " Is your opinion generally favorable to the system of Mixed 
Schools and would you recommend them as preferable to others ?" Not 
universally. In country towns and small villages there may be no 
special objection to a union of the sexes in school. Convenience renders 
it desirable, if not necessary, in many places. 

In a city, as compact as yours, I think, all things considered, I should 
decide in favor of a separation of the sexes. The modes of discipline 
necessary for the different sexes are often unlike, and if the boys are 
sometimes kept under a wholesome restraint by the presence of the 
gentler sex, I am inclined to think that the latter are oftener injured by 
the somewhat rude and unpolished deportment, added to the stern treat- 
ment sometimes called for on the part of some boys ; in other words, the 
influence, if favorable, is so only to the boys and then at too great sacrifice 
on the part of the girls. 

Again, in matters of instruction, there is, often, a difference in the two 
sexes. This difference extends not only to the branches to be pursued, 
but also to the degree of interest with which the same studies may be 
pursued by the different sexes. As a general thing, I think girls are 
much more easily influenced and interested than boys, and those means 
which would sufficiently stimulate them, might scarcely make any im- 
pression upon the boys. The advantages of union of the sexes in school, 
if any, are wholly in favor of the boys, and, I fear, to the detriment of 
the girls. There are, however, arguments on " both sides of the ques- 
tion," and I only regret that I cannot give you my own views more fully 
and more decidedly. Pressing engagements have obliged me to write in 
great haste, and without much consideration of the subject. As my ex- 
perience has been confined, almost entirely to Mixed Schools, perhaps I 
ought not to speak vcrij decidedly, but still I am inclined to favor the 
separation of the sexes in schools where local circumstances will admit 
of it. In great haste, very respectfully, 

CHAS. NORTHEND. 



18 

Browne School, Salem, May 20, 1848. 

C. W. Moore, Esq. — Dear Sir : — I think you, with others from 
Charlestown, were in my school a short time since, when the subject of 
Mixed Schools was mentioned. I think I gave my opinion at that time. 
I commenced teaching in Salem, seventeen years ago, in a school of boys, 
and remained in it for two years ; then I was transferred to a school of 
girls, where I remained twelve years, when our Committee thought fit to 
commit the care of the Female Schools to Female Principals, with Assist- 
ants. I was then placed over the Mixed School, where I now am. 

I am of ihe opinion that schools do best, both in a moral and intellec- 
tual view, where only one sex attend. Some suppose that the presence 
of girls has a softening and refining tendency with the boys. This may 
be the case, to some extent ; but I think the counteracting influence of 
the boys, on the moral feelings of the girls, more than balances the good 
derived from having both sexes in the same school. 

Girls are more easily governed than boys, and I think that good disci- 
pline is maintained at less expense in a school of boys exclusively, than 
in a school of both sexes. So strong are my convictions in the case, that 
I have requested the Committee to put a partition wall through my room, 
and make two schools — one of girls, the other of boys exclusively. I 
will take charge of the boys, with one assistant, and a female take charge 
of the girls. Very respectfully, yours, 

J. B, FAIRFIELD. 



Salem, May 20, 1S48. 
Mr. Moore, 

Dear Sir, — Your note of yesterday's date I have received this after- 
noon, and will return an immediate answer. 

1st. I have been a Teacher in a School for both sexes, in Salem, since 
1836. 

2d. I am fully satisfied that both sexes in the same school-room, can be 
more easily controlled and are capable of better government, with the 
same effort on the part of a Teacher, than would be either sex alone. 

3d. To your third inquiry I cannot say yes without some qualification. 
It is well known to all observant of childhood, that some pupils are neith- 
er stimulated by one set of circumstances or by another, and must, in 
fact, be permitted to move onward with a uniform and very moderate 
motion. But I think, on the whole, the presence of both sexes is produc- 
tive of a limited increase of study. 

4th. Your fourth inquiry is one which claims from all of us the utmost 
consideration, inasmuch as the conclusion to which we arrive upon this 
point alone, should, in my opinion, decid® us to act in favor of, or in op- 
position to, Mixed Schools. 

I have not the slightest belief that the morals or manners of any child, 
male or female, who has been a member of my school, have been at all 
impaired by the agency of any principle or circumstance peculiar to 
Mixed Schools. 

In the school under my care, the sexes are not merely in the same 
room, but are intermixed. We have double desks, each of which is oc- 
cupied by a boy and girl. It is readily seen that this mode of seating 
pupils secures to us the double advantage of placing together children of 
dissimilar propensities, habits or tastes, and also of placing together the 
different sexes ; the object of which is to stimulate what is good, or to 
repress what is evil. Such, in fact, is the actual result as found by expe- 
rience, that I have no desire to return to a separation of the sexes to dif- 
ferent rooms, or to different parts of the same room. 

The tendency to whisper — an immoral tendency — is much restrained, 



19 

oitentimes utterly broken down ; whilst the manners of the boys, if in 
some instances tending to coarseness, receive an impression from girls 
highly favorable, without communicating anything mischievous instead. 
I know of many instances where boys and girls have manifestly received 
valuable aid to both morals and manners, by this intermixture of the 
sexes. 

No person needs to be reminded of the convenience attendant upon the 
fact, that all the members, male and female, can go to the same school 
from the same family. 

Custom, too, that silent but omnipotent monitor, which alike sustains 
the peculiar institutions of republics and despotisms, is much in favor of 
Mixed Schools. If we look at the schools of New England, how many 
can be found where both sexes are not mixed ? And further, if the sexes 
must be separated at school, why not be uniform, and carry this separa- 
tion into churches, coaches, railroad cars, and even to the very streets 
themselves ? 

From the remarks made, I necessarily come to the conclusion, that 
boys and girls should, under ordinary circumstances, constitute a school. 
I am, very respectfully, 

Your humble servant, 

ALBERT LACKEY. 



LETTER FROM ¥^M. B. FOWLE, Esq. 

13Si Washington Street, Boston, May 19, 1848. 
Charles W, Moore, Esq. 

My Dear Sir, — In answer to your inquiry what my opinion is of 
the plan of instructing the two sexes in the presence of each other, I 
frankly say, that I consider it injudicious, if not positively injurious, and 
if you ask me why I think so, I reply : — 

1. That my experience has satisfied me that it is safer to separate them. 

2. The opinion of many of the best teachers in the country, toho are 
married^ coincides with my own. At Teachers' Institutes I have made 
this a subject of special inquiry. 

3. The subjects taught to the two sexes should be materially different, 
and some subjects can be taught to one sex in the absence of the other, 
that cannot be so well taught when they are together. This is evident 
where males teach boys, and females girls. 

4. The discipline required by the two sexes is so different that the 
teacher who makes the proper distinction will certainly lose his charac- 
ter for impartiality. On no other ground than this can I account for the 
barbarous practice of striking females as boys are punished. 

5. The sentimentalism that I sometimes hear, about the civilizing in- 
fluence of the gentler sex over the other, is contradicted by my observa- 
tion and experience. Mischief arises ten times as often as any good is 
done by this intercourse. 

6. In all Mixed Schools there will be some impure minds of both sexes, 
and their active influence will do far more evil than the quiet example of 
good ones will do good. Prevention is the key to discipline and good 
morals. 

7. Boys will use bad language in the presence of girls, whether these 
incline to hear it or not. They will do indelicate things to show their 
spirit. They will have their favorite girls, and these will flirt at a very 



20 

early age. Signs will be adopted, and letters interchanged, and assigna- 
tions often made. This I have known to be carried to a great extent in 
some Academies, which are usually Mixed Schools. 

9. Very many judicious parents will not allow their daughters to go 
to Mixed Schools, and yet these are the very children that we wish to 
draw into the Public Schools. 

10. Most male Teachers prefer to teach girls, and they rarely advise a 
separation, if the girls are to be removed from under their care. Ex- 
teachers are the best advisers. 

When the children are under seven years of age, the danger is lessened 
but not removed. Things are seen, and said, and done, even in these 
Primary Schools, which leave a permanent stain upon the mind, especially 
if the yard and the privy are common to the two sexes. 

Any one who knows me will know that these opinions do not arise 
from any austerity of character, or any preciseness of manners. I know 
what I saw at school when I was young, I know what I saw for twenty- 
one years while I was a Teacher, I know what other Teachers have told 
me, and what has been told me by my pupils, and yet I believe no School 
ever possessed a higher tone of morality than mine. 

I should be glad to copy these remarks, and enlarge upon each, but I 
have not time, and your own good sense will anticipate much of what I 
should say. Yours, very respectfully, 

WM. B, FOWLE, 



COUNTER REPORT. 



The undersigned, from the sub-committee to whom was referred the 
petition of William Eager and others, for a change in the existing 
plan of school organization, so far as relates to the Harvard schools, 
by separating the sexes now in those schools, so as to make one school 
of the boys and another of the girls, dissenting from the other two 
members, submits the following counter 

REPORT. 

The plan of uniting boys and girls in the same school room was 
presented for the first time formally to the notice of the board, at a 
meeting on the first day of February of this year, — though attention 
had been directed to it, as is already know^n to several members of 
this committee, some time previously. It was then presented as a 
part of a general plan for the re-organization of the grammar schools. 
By general consent, it was laid aside at that meeting, to be taken up 
and acted upon at the next. The next meeting was held on the 
fifteenth of the same month, and was a special one, called chiefly 
with a view to another matter. This proposition was, however, taken 
up and discussed, but no vote was taken upon it. The meeting was 
adjourned to the eighteenth. At the meeting on the eighteenth, the 
subject was again taken up and considered. A committee was 
appointed to organize the Harvard, Winthrop and Warren schools 
into six separate and independent schools ; but still the question 
whether boys and girls were to be in the same school room was not 
determined. The meeting was adjourned to the twentythird of the 
same month. At this meeting on the twentythird, after a lengthy dis- 
cussion upon the question, and the reading of letters from several emi- 
nent teachers and others relating to it, it was voted, that '' when the 
Harvard, Warren and Winthrop schools be reorganized into six sepa- 
rate and independent schools, they be composed each of both sexes.'' 
On this question, there were, in the affirmative, eight ; in the nega- 
tive, three. At the meeting on the fifteenth, when the proposifion 



was first considered, the whole board was present ; at that on the 
eighteenth, all but one member; and at that on the twentythird, 
when the vote was taken, every member. The undersigned deems 
these details important to show that the action of the late board was 
not hasty and inconsiderate. The measure was determined upon with 
great deliberation and after much inquiry and discussion ; and upon a 
careful review of the objections urged by these same petitioners, a 
month afterward, it was voted, seven to four, to adhere to it. Such 
is the history of this measure in the late board. When this board 
entered upon its duties, it found the plan in operation. 

The petition referred to the sub-committee contained simply an 
averment. It declared, that no good could come of the present ar- 
rangement, and that the objections to it were of a '' strong, serious and 
decisive character ;" but it alleged no reason in support of the declar- 
ation. The undersigned, therefore, prepared a letter to Mr, Eager, 
the first signer of the petition, informing him that the sub-committee 
to whom his petition had been referred, would be happy to avail of any 
knowledge that he possessed upon the subject, and which he might 
be pleased to communicate in writing ; and that they would be espe- 
cially obliged if he would inform them what those objections to the 
present plan which the petitioners deemed of a ^' strong, serious and 
decisive character" were. This letter was submitted to the sub-com- 
mittee, and being approved, was sent to Mr. Eager; and some seven 
or eight days afterward, the undersigned received from that gentle- 
man a statement in aid of the petition, which here follows. At the 
same meeting of the sub-committee, the undersigned submitted a cir- 
cular letter addressed to each of the principal teachers in the grammar 
schools, proposing certain interrogatories in respect of the union of boys 
and girls in the same school room, which being also approved, was 
transmitted. The inquiries propounded, together with the replies of 
the teachers, are subjoined to the statement from the petitioners. 

STATEMENT IN AID OF THE PETITION. 

Charlestown, May 8th, 1848. 
To the School Committee of the City of Charlestown : 

Gentlemen — Some of the inhabitants of Ward No. 1, petitioners 
for the restoration of the former mode of instructing children by a sep- 
aration of the sexes, ask leave to present to you in aid of their petition, 
a very brief summary of the reasons which have induced them at this 
time to press the matter upon the serious consideration of your Board. 

They object to the new plan of uniting the boys and girls in the 
same departments and classes for instruction ; 

1st. Because it is a variation from a known, well-tried and well- 
approved method of instruction in cities and other places of dense 
population, which in their opinion, is uncalled for by any consideration 
of economy, convenience, or good order. 



23 

2d. Because, it defeats the object of a good and appropriate educa- 
tion for females, by training them in the same manner and in the same 
studies and classes, as if they were destined to be, like boys, our 
future engineers, navigators, merchants, legislators and governors. A 
different course of instruction and discipline, as it seems to the peti- 
tioners, would better prepare girls for those duties of life, to which 
they must inevitably be called. 

3d. Because, from eight to fourteen, an age, the most important 
and the most dangerous, as well as the most susceptible of impres- 
sions, there is demanded for girls, that watchful care, that attention 
to sexual differences, that jealous guarding of mental and physical 
purity, which it is believed, cannot be had in a Mixed School ; — and 
because at this period, an age of bold and unsuspecting confidence, 
girls, if not checked by prudent counsel, would as readily engage with 
all their schoolmates in the rough plays of the streets, as in the exer- 
cises proper to their sex and character. 

4th. Because, the modesty of the female, so essential to the purity 
of her early years, is, in Mixed Schools, unavoidably exposed to rude 
assaults by writings, allusions and intercourse, which no vigilance 
can fully prevent. It may be said that some girls are guilty of 
using improper terms and expressions ; but such girls have little in- 
fluence with their own sex, unless countenanced and encouraged by 
rude male companions. Besides, coarse, vulgar, obscene and profane 
expressions become doubly injurious to the moral purity of the young, 
when uttered in the presence of both sexes, who stand in the relation 
of schoolmates and companions. Again, vicious girls, it is believed, 
when they are permitted to associate with the other sex, have a ten- 
dency to corrupt their minds and thus both sexes are injured by 
the intimacy unavoidably produced by Mixed Schools. In some in- 
stances, too, it becomes necessary to give admonitions to one sex, 
which no judicious Teacher would administer in the presence of the 
other. 

5th. Because, at a period w^hen the mind receives its deepest im- 
pressions, a Mixed School is fatal to that careful choice, that selection 
of worthy and suitable companions, which is especially necessary for 
girls, as the instincts, which draw the sexes together, begin to make 
their first developments. A mistake at this period, which care and 
prudence may prevent, often becomes a source of lasting misery. 

6th. Because a large and respectable number of Tax-payers in 
Ward No. 1, have such conscientious objections to the new plan of in- 
struction, as must deprive them of the benefits of the Public Schools 
to a great extent and inflict upon them an injury, to which, if the oki 
plan be returned to, none can be exposed. The petitioners are un- 
willing to leave the impression upon your minds that the present plan 
will, in their opinion, prove injurious to the girls alone ; — far other- 
wise. They believe it will be detrimental to both sexes. Whatever 
is injurious to the moral purity of the one, will become so to the other. 
In society they act and re-act upon each other. It may be proper here 
to remind the Committee that many of the petitioners have sons and 
daughters, and others, sons only, to attend the school. 

Such are some of the objections which have induced your petition- 
ers to ask you to change the present system of instruction in the Har- 
vard School, They are believed by them to be of a '^strong, seiious 
and decisive character. ^^ Other reasons might be adduced in their esti- 



24 

mation equally convincing : these they intended to bring forward had 
they been allowed a personal hearing ; but they forbear^ in the full 
belief that you will review the whole subject, and decide according to 
your convictions, upon such a course as shall be most beneficial to the 
School. 

For the Petitioners — Yours, Respectfully, 

(Signed,) WM. EAGER, 

A. ANDREWS, 
CHAS. THOMPSON, 
HENRY FORSTER, 
EDWARD LAWRENCE, 
GEORGE E. ELLIS, 
JOHN SKILTON. 



QUESTIONS PROPOSED TO THE PRINCIPAL TEACHERS. 

1. " Does the union of boys and girls in the same school room tend to 
good order and government in the school, or otherwise ? 

2. Is its influence upon the manners, habits and morals of the two 
sexes, so far as you have observed, favorable, or otherwise ? 

3. Are there, in your judgment, " strong, serious and decisive objec- 
tions'' to it ? And, if so, what are they ? 

4. Has the experience that you have thus far had under this plan been 
such as to satisfy you that it had better be continued, or should it be 
changed ?" 



REPLIES OF THE TEACHERS. 

Charlestown, May 8, 1848. 

Seth J. Thomas, Esq., — Dear Sir: — In answer to the questions con- 
tained in your note of the 1st inst., I reply, that from the results of my 
own experience and observation, I believe the presence of each sex in a 
school, as every where else, has, to some extent, a restraining and salu- 
tary influence upon the other, — and thus tends, indirectly at least, to good 
order and government. 

I will not say that the evils of improper communication may not arise 
in a school thus organized ; but I believe their occurrence will not be 
more frequent than where the sexes are separated, — while the remedy 
may be applied much more readily, and with more efficiency in the for- 
mer than in the latter. 

Viewing the subject in this light, I must say, that I believe " its influ- 
ence upon the manners, habits and morals of the two sexes" to be favor- 
able ; that I know of no " strong, serious and decisive objections" to it ; 
and that my experience under this plan has been such as to satisfy me 
that it had better be continued, in my own school, at least. 
I am, yours, very respectfully, 

B. F. TWEED. 

Charlestown, May 10th, 1848. 

Dear Sir, — I take pleasure in submitting to you the following reply to 
the questions proposed in your communication of May 1st. 

It is generally admitted, I believe, that the presence of either sex natu- 
rally operates as a restraint upon the other, and so far as my experience 
serves me, the principle applies to the reciprocal influence of children of 
different sexes in the same room. I should, therefore, say, that "the 



25 

union of boys and girls in the same school room, tends to good order and 
government in the school." 

The society of the sexes at school will serve, I have no doubt, to modi- 
fy the deportment of each, mutually inciting both to habits of neatness in 
their personal appearance, and rendering them more circumspect and 
chaste in their language and manners • and since by the present system, 
they are directly under the eye of one instructer, and wholly within his 
jurisdiction, should any improper communication between them, some- 
times occur, a more favorable opportunity is afforded for detection and 
remedy, than if they were in separate rooms and accountable to different 
teachers, I am led to conclude, therefore, that " the influence of the 
union upon the manners, habits and morals of the two sexes," is favora- 
ble. 

If the above opinion is correct, I am, of course, unable to see any 
*' strong, serious and decisive objections" to the system recently estab- 
lished ; and my experience thus far of its effects, has not " been such as 
to satisfy" me " that it had better be changed." 
Yours, respectfully, 

STACY BAXTER. 

Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 

Charlestown, May 6th, 1848. 
Dear Sir, — In answer to the questions proposed in your note of the 1st 
inst., I would say — 

1st. That, in my opinion, the union of the boys and girls in the same 
room, does tend to good order and government in the schools. 

2d. That the influence of this union upon " the manners, habits and 
morals of the two sexes, so far as I have observed," is, in general, decid- 
edly favorable. 

3d. There are, as I think, no serious objections to it. 
4th. I am satisfied that this union should be continued. 
I am, Sir, with great respect. 

Your humble servant, 

WM. C. BRADLEE, 
Col. S. J. Thomas, 

Member of Com. of Charlestown Free Schools. 



Warren School, No. 2, Charlestown, May 3, 1848. 
Dear Sir, — Your inquiries, addressed to me in a note of the 1st inst., 
have been received ; and in answer to the first, I will state, that the or- 
der of my school has improved, and it is more easily disciplined than 
formerly, — whether in consequence of the union of the sexes, or other- 
%vise, I am not able to say. 

2d. In regard to its influence on the manners, habits and morals of the 
pupils, sufficient time has not elapsed, to enable me to determine with 
much accuracy, but I have seen nothing unfavorable thus far. 

3d. I have seen no " strong, serious and decisive objections" to this 
plan, that could not be urged as strongly, seriously and decisively, against 
any other plan of school organization. 

4th. In the limited experience that I have had, under this plan, in the 
Warren School, I have seen nothing to satisfy me that a change should 
be made. 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

JOSEPH T. SWAN, 

Prin, Warren School, No, 2. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 

4 



26 

Charlestown, May 3, 1848, 
Dear Sir : — Yours was received yesterday afternoon. Before answer- 
ing the questions proposed, allow me to say, that my experience in mixed 
Schools has been in the country, and conclusions formed there may not 
be thought valuable here. 

Still, in the short trial since our change was made, I have seen no rea- 
son to modify former opinions, and can frankly say, — 

I think the union of boys and girls in the same room tends to good 
order and government in the school ; and that the influence upon the hab- 
its, manners and morals of the two sexes is favorable, rather than other- 
wise. 

I do not know any decisive objections to this arrangement. 
The experience of so short a time cannot furnish very valuable data, 
but I see no reasons for a change. 

I am, dear sir, your ob't serv't, 

C. S. PENNELL. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 

Charlestown, Mass. 



Charlestown, May 8, 1848. 

Dear Sir, — In replying to the questions in your favor of last week, I 
would say — 

1. That in my judgment, the union of both sexes in the same school- 
room, does tend to good order and government in the school. 

2. That its influence upon the manners, habits and morals of the two 
sexes, is, so far as I have observed, favorable. 

3. That in my opinion, there are no strong, serious and decisive objec- 
tions to it. 

4. An experience of eight years, under this plan, satisfies me that it 
had better be continued. 

I am., dear Sir, yours, very respectfully, 

WM. S. WILLIAMS. 
Col. Seth J. Thomas. 



Charlestown, May 12, 1848. 
Dear Sir, — In reply to your note of May 1, I would say, — 

1. I think that the union of boys and girls in the same school-room, 
does tend to good order and government. 

2. Its influence upon the manners, habits and morals, is not, in my 
opinion, generally favorable. 

3. The greatest objection to the system is its moral tendency. 

4. If children [of both sexes] must attend school in the same buildings 
I should prefer to have them in the same rooin, also. 

Yours, respectfully, 

J. P. AVERILL. 
Seth J. Thomas, Esq. 

It will be seen that the petitioners object, first, that the union of 
boys and girls in the same school room is a variation from a long- tried 
and well-approved method of instruction in cities and other places of 
dense population ; which variation, is, in their opinion, uncalled for 
by any considerations of economy, convenience or good order. That 
this plan differs from the plan in operation in some cities, is indeed 
true ; but it may with at least equal propriety be said, that the other 
plan varies from ours, as that ours varies from it. To suppose that 



27 

ours is by any means a new and untried plan, even in places of dense 
population, is a mistake. It has been in operation in nearly all New 
England for more than two centuries, and here in Charlestown, is as 
old as the settlement of the place itself. In the Bunker Hill school, 
it has been in uninterrupted force some seven or eight years, and 
always with the happiest results. The truth is, ours is the original 
plan, and the other the variation. But even if this objection were 
true, it amounts to nothing. The question is not, the undersigned be- 
lieves, from what plan ours varies, or with what plan it accords, but 
whether it is a good plan ; whether, all things considered, it is the 
best possible. Conformity with what has been, is of much less conse- 
quence than with what ought to be. As to the matter of economy, it 
has never been pretended that a less number of teachers would be 
required under it, or that the salaries of the teachers could be made 
less. It was never recommended on that ground. But there are, 
nevertheless, considerations of economy of a higher character which 
the plan is believed to favor. It will shorten the school life ; it will 
economize time ; for it not only tends to emulation and greater effort 
on the part of the children, but by favoring a correspondence of differ- 
ent orders of minds, tends, also, to the improvement of both, render- 
ing the mastery of general principles and the acquisition of knowledge 
all the more easy. And by shortening the school life, it will, of 
course, lessen the outlay for an education, also. 

The petitioners object, next, that the plan '^ defeats the object of a 
good and appropriate education for females, by training them in the 
same manner and in the same studies and classes, as if they were 
destined to be, like boys, our future engineers, navigators, merchants, 
legislators and governors." "-A. different "course of instruction and 
discipline," they add, ''would better prepare girls for those duties of 
life to which they must inevitably be called." The extraordinary 
character of this objection, leads the undersigned to doubt whether the 
gentlemen who signed this statement in behalf of the petitioners know 
what the studies taught in the grammar schools are. Take the Har- 
vard school, for example. The studies now taught there, are, read- 
ing, spelling, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, geography, com- 
posiuon and American history. The undersigned had not contempla- 
ted to be called to answer the objection, from any source, that the 
pursuit of these, or any of them, tended to defeat the object of a good 
and appropriate education ; nor to give assurance that the idea was 
not seriously entertained in the school committee to fit the girls 
in the Harvard school district to be our navigators, engineers and 
members of the legislature. That there may be no longer any 



28 

misapprehension on this point, however, it may not be unnecessary to 
say, that neither navigation, nor engineering, nor political economy 
is taught in the Harvard or either of the grammar schools. And this 
will also excuse the undersigned for saying, that, at the close of the 
last year, when there were in the Harvard school girls only, and when 
the scope of studies was broader than it now is, and philosophy and 
astronomy and algebra and geometry were embraced in the list, there 
were in that school, in philosophy, more than double the number in 
any other ; in astronomy, eleven times as many as in any other ; in 
algebra, four times as many ; and in geometry, the largest save one, 
and that the Bunker Hill, composed of both boys and girls. Yet the 
committee heard no complaints from the petitioners, many of whom 
sent their daughters there, that the objects of a good and appropriate 
education were in the way of being defeated. These girls then pur- 
sued all the studies that they now pursue and in the same way as now. 
Is it not somewhat surprising, the undersigned is constrained to ask, 
especially when it is considered that the petitioners were represented 
in the school committee by one of their number, that this objection 
was not thought of till now ; that these gentlemen should, just at this 
moment, have awoke, after so long a repose, and for the first time 
discovered that the study of reading and writing and arithmetic and 
spelling and English grammar and geography and American history 
and composition, in the grammar schools, tended to defeat the object 
of a good education, and that there was a serious project on foot in the 
school committee to make of their daughters, engineers, navigators 
and members of the legislature 1 

The '' different course of instruction," which the petitioners say 
'^ they believe would better prepare girls for those duties of life to 
which they must inevitably be called,'' the petitioners have not point- 
ed out. But in any view that the undersigned is able to take of it, 
there appears to him difficulty in the way of this. The difficulty is, — 
admitting it to be desirable, — that one never knows when a child, nor 
do ones parents know, to what particular duties one is to be called in 
the course of life. Some of these girls, for instance, may, by and by, 
be called to be school teachers ; in which case, a knowledge of read- 
ing and writing and arithmetic, and even a pretty extensive know- 
ledge of the latter, may be very valuable to them. Others, to be sure, 
may be called to do house work ; but it is hardly to be supposed that 
even the gentlemen who framed these objections and set their names 
to them, would seriously urge that as a reason for introducing the study 
of house work into the grammar schools, as a means of fitting them for_ 
such duties. Moreover, even if it were known in childhood to what 
particular sphere of duty one would be called, when grown up, the 



29 

policy of an education with reference solely or chiefly to so limited an 
end, may well be questioned. The object of education should rather 
be, to develope the mind, to draw it out, and give it scope and 
balance and strength, than to confine it within so narrow a compass 
and nurture it with so scanty means. 

But again, there is danger, say the petitioners, that girls, if not 
checked by prudent counsel, will engage with all their schoolmates in 
the rough plays of the streets. The modesty of the girls will be ex- 
posed to rude assaults ; there will be coarse, obscene and profane ex- 
pressions used, — doubly injurious when used in the presence of both 
sexes. And besides, it sometimes becomes necessary to give admo- 
nitions to one sex, which no judicious teacher would administer in the 
presence of the other. The undersigned admits, of course, that great 
care is demanded lor girls at the period of life referred to ; and he is 
not unmindful that great care is demanded for boys, also. He agrees, 
that it may sometimes become necessary to give admonition to one sex 
which should not be given in the presence of the other. But in every 
such case, in his judgment, the admonition should be given to the 
scholar individually, and not to the class, whether composed of boys 
or girls or of both. But if otherwise, the plan interposes no hindrance 
to it. The girls are alone with the teachers every half day, for ten 
minutes, while the boys are at recess ; and the boys are alone with 
the teachers every half day, for ten minutes, while the girls are 
at recess ; and if it should become necessary to give admonition to 
either at any other time than this, nothing is easier than to detain either 
after the other is dismissed. The truth is, none of these objections 
have any thing to do with the plan or the plan with them. The plan 
is, simply, to unite the boys and girls in the same school room, under 
the control of the same teachers. Profane or obscene language can- 
not be used by one sex toward the other in the school room. That is 
impossible, or next to impossible. It is believed that not one such case 
has occurred in either of the seven grammar schools since the plan 
was put in operation. And as for the use of such language out of 
school, unless it can be traced to impressions or influences received in 
school, how is the union of the two sexes in the same school responsi- 
ble for if? It is plain to the undersigned, that the meeting of the two 
in school, under the control of suitable teachers, will tend to restrain 
rather than help to encourage impropriety of conduct at out-door meet- 
ings. And in this view, the undersigned is happy to find himself con- 
firmed by the direct statement of both Mr. Tweed, of the Bunker Hill, 
and Mr. Baxter, of the Harvard schools, whose opinions, formed from 
careful observation and long experience, and never hastily expressed, 
are confessedly entitled to great weight. 



30 

Besides, one of the objects to be gained by the union is precisely 
that '■'■ prudent counsel" which the petitioners deem so essential. This 
'' prudent counsel," that instruction in " good behavior," which is one 
of the first commands of the law in relation to our public schools, may 
be better and more efficiently given, in the judgment of the under, 
signed, in the presence of both sexes, than before each apart. In the 
deportment of the principal and sub-master, the boys have an ideal, a 
pattern, for their own deportment toward the girls, as well as toward 
each other ; while in the deportment of the female assistant, the girls 
have an example for their own conduct toward the boys as well as 
toward each other. And in case any impropriety does occur, the rem- 
edy is much more easily applied when both are responsible to a single 
head. Let it still be borne in mind, that the boys and girls in the Har- 
vard schools will meet out of school, whether separate in school or no. 
That must be so. If separated into two different schools, they would 
still go to school in the same building. The schools begin at the same 
hour, and are dismissed at the same hour. They would meet when 
the schools were out, and before they commenced ; on their way to 
school and from school. The probability of meeting is the same in 
either case. The difference is simply in the meeting or not meeting 
in the school room under the control of the same teachers. — the teach- 
ers being always the first in school and the last to leave it. This is all 
there is in the plan. Now, the undersigned submits to any intelligent 
and candid person — is it not more improbable, to say the least, that 
there will be improper conduct between the boys and girls when they 
come to meet out of school, after having received from one common 
teacher — to whom they are responsible when they return — in the 
same room and before each other, '' prudent counsel," lessons in 
" good behaviour," than if there had been no such meeting in school 
and they had received no such instructions or had received such sep- 
arately and from separate and independent teachers % Is it not clear, 
that improprieties will be less frequent, as well as more easily detect- 
ed, than if the two sexes met out of school only % 

It has been said, that the fact of providing for a separation at recess 
and for separate entrances to the schools, is an admission of the main 
objections urged by the petitioners. But it appears to the undersigned 
that those who say this confound essential distinctions in propriety. 
The propriety of an association of boys and girls under the control of a 
suitable master in a school room, is one thing ; the propriety of an as- 
sociation out of doors and under no control, is another and quite a dif- 
ferent thing. It appears to the undersigned that one needs not to reflect 
very far to perceive that an association in the school room may be very 
proper, and at the same time an associafion at recess very improper. 



31 

It iSj perhaps, hardly necessary that the undersigned should push this 
argument further, when reason is not left alone in the case, but expe- 
rience, the testimony of masters, and common observation, directly 
confirm it. We know — every body who reflects, knows, that the meet- 
ing of boys and girls under suitable control, tends to refine and polish 
and give dignity and consideration to both. The manner and bearing 
of a boy who has been much in the society of girls, is more courteous 
and manly than that of one who has not; and the effect of the society 
of girls upon boys is not more beneficial than that of boys upon girls. 
There is a mutual improvement. It is for the sake of this, doubtless, 
that even some of the gentlemen who signed this catalogue of objec- 
tions, consent to send their daughters to dancing schools, there to meet 
boys, and where they meet under far less restraint, too, than in our 
grammar schools, and under the charge of masters, it is at least safe 
to say, not of a higher moral culture than our grammar school teach- 
ers. Out of doors, it has been said, that this union is calculated to 
polish and otherwise benefit the boys at the expense of the girls. But 
this is not so. The girls in the Bunker Hill school, where this plan 
has long been in operation, ma}^ safely challenge a comparison with 
the Harvard in respect of good deportment; while in respect of studies, 
it is an incontestible fact that the former are more thorough than those 
in any and every other school. 

But this is not all. The petitioners still object, that, '^ at a period of 
life when the mind receives its deepest impressions, a mixed school is 
fatal to that careful choice — that selection of worthy and suitable compan- 
ions — which is especially necessary for girls, as the instincts which 
draw the sexes together, begin to make their first developements. A 
mistake at this period — which care and prudence may prevent — often he- 
comes a source of lasting misery ^ Now, it is not easy to mistake the 
scope of this objection. It is not an objection that goes to the plan 
adopted by the late board here, that is, the plan of uniting boys and 
girls in the same school room ; but to the common school system — 
the law of the Commonwealth — the plan of educating all classes 
of children in one common school — a plan that is, upon all occasions 
and every where, our boast — the boast of New England — the boast es- 
pecially of Massachusetts. The objection is an attack upon the com- 
mon school system ; it strikes at the root of that system ; it will last as 
an objection while that system lasts. It demands for the children of 
the petitioners — or rather the gentlemen who furnished these objec- 
tions for them — a more select association. In place of common 
schools, it argues for select ones. It deplores the " lasting mis- 
ery" which may come from a companionship — perhaps an alliance — 
with the " unwashed." Against this deplorable calamity, the school 



32 

committee is begged to set its face ! But what has the school com- 
mittee to do with it? The remedy is with the legislature ) to that the 
objectors must go. The law has provided that these schools shall be 
public and common ; that the advantages and opportunities shall be 
spread while the Commonwealth lasts, in the various parts of the State, 
and among the different orders of the people. They are intended ex- 
pressly for the benefit of all the inhabitants. The rich and the poor, 
the high and the low, the polite and the vulgar, all have an equal right 
in them. Such is the plan. The teacher must do his best for the im- 
provement of all. If a child become incorrigible, he may be sent 
away from school ; but while he is controllable and can be made to 
conform to school rules, and contaminate not the rest with something 
worse than an apprehension that he may engage in a family above his 
own level, he must be retained. 

There is one fact, which has been overlooked in the discussions of 
this question, that is of some consequence. It is, that the sphere of a 
vicious boy, if there be one such in school, is lessened one half by this 
arrangement. Whereas the number of boys in each school under the 
other plan was two hundred, it is now but one. It is not girls, as a 
general thing, that such boys seek as associates. A very vicious boy 
is seldom found in the society of girls ; and instead of two hundred fel- 
lows from among whom to select his comrades, he has now only 
half that number. This is certainly an object gained. 

But then there are men, say the petitioners, and tax-payers, too, who 
have conscientious objections to this plan ; that is, of course, the plan of 
putting boys and girls in charge of the same teachers in the same 
room. Now, inasmuch as the objections of fact are all separately 
stated, the undersigned infers that by this the petitioners mean an ob- 
jection resting solely in the conscience of the objector; that is, an ob- 
jection having no objective existence, — a sort of conscientious scruple. 
For such, the undersigned begs to assure the committee, he entertains 
a becoming respect. A scruple, whether of conscience or of intellect, 
may be valid for one who entertains it; it may be taken to determine 
his course. But in order that it may constitute a ground for our action, 
it must be valid also for us ; and it cannot be valid for us unless it re- 
poses upon grounds objectively sufficient. A scruple in itself is not a 
basis of action for one who has it not. In this case, the scruple repo- 
ses upon the reasons or supposed reasons already considered. If it has 
been shown that these have no validity, what becomes of the scruples % 
We may lament the tenderness of the conscience that deprives one of 
benefits so substantial; but what are we to do about it'? The case ad- 
mits of no remedy. 



33 

Besides, may not one mistake his will or temper for a scruple 1: or, 
may it not be an illusion? And, in such a case, who is to decide 1 
The laws of the State do indeed exempt a certain class of persons 
from the performance of certain duties, and again from the perform- 
ance of certain others in a particular way ; but whoever heard these 
scruples assigned as a reason for a change in the general plan for the 
great public '? In the cases referred to, in the exemption of Quakers 
and Shakers from military duty, for example, the law requires a certi- 
ficate signed by at least two persons, that the party claiming an ex- 
emption has given some outward evidence that he really has scruples. 
And in the case of the administration of oaths, the law also provides 
that persons who object to the usual form may be examined as to their 
scruples upon their voir dire, before affirming, and the magistrate must 
be satisfied of the truth of such declaration before the party may af- 
firm. But here we have not the advantage of any such test ; and it is 
not difficult to see to what such objections would lead us, were we to 
yield to them. The undersigned holds it to be the duty of the com- 
mittee in fixing upon a plan for schools, to fix upon the best possible ; 
which having done, if a porfion of those designed to be benefited by 
it, become possessed of conscientious objections or scruples or illusions, 
so that they are unwilling to avail of it, the committee may safely 
acquit themselves of blame. 

Such are the objections to putting boys and girls into the same 
school room. The petitioners say, that, there are others they might 
have stated, had they been permitted a personal hearing. The sub- 
committee were unanimously of the opinion, that it was best, that, to 
avoid misunderstanding, the objecfions of the petitioners should be 
written down by themselves ; and from the known intelligence and 
ability of the petitioners, and the zeal manifested by them in the case, 
and the length of time taken to frame their answer, it is but fair to pre- 
sume, that, if they have not stated all the objections, they have at least 
stated the strongest that could be stated. However this may be, in 
closing their statement, the petitioners say, they deem these reasons 
^' strong, serious and decisive J'' Upon a careful consideration of them, 
the undersigned cannot agree with the petitioners. They appear to 
him, on the contrary, not only not strong, serious and decisive, but 
neither decisive, strong, nor serious. So far as they have any valid- 
ity, they are rather objections to the common school system than to 
any plan or part of a plan of this committee. 

Thus far, it will be seen, the undersigned has considered this ques- 
tion chiefly in a moral point of view, — the only point of view from 
which the petitioners regard it. But there is another view to be taken 
of it, — a psychological one. Girls, as a general thing, receive impres- 

5 



34 

sions into the mind more readily than boys ; boys subject these im- 
prsssions, when received, to a severer criticism in the understanding. 
The former perceive things more readily, the latter cognize more closely. 
The union of the two in the same class will benefit both ; for it will 
give aptness to the one and strength and solidity to the other. There 
will be a mutual emulation ; the progress will be more rapid. There 
is already a very perceptible improvement in the schools under this 
plan, not only in respect of order and government and the general ap- 
pearance and deportment of the scholars, but in learning, also. It has 
reacted upon the teachers, and aroused them, too, to new life and en- 
ergy. It promises, in the judgment of the undersigned, if left undis- 
turbed, the most auspicious results. 

Is it not obvious, then, in what manner we ought to proceed ? Sup- 
pose we grant the prayer of the petition. Shall we stop at that ? If 
we place oar action upon moral grounds, how can we justify ourselves 
in permitting the evil to be continued in the other schools 1 Why con- 
tinue to prepare to put in operation the same plan in the High school, 
where, if the objections of the petitioners have any validity, they ap- 
ply with far greater force than in the Harvard '? The undersigned is 
free to say, that for his own part, he has no faith in that morality which 
satisfies itself with a compromise with evil ; at least such a compro- 
mise — a compromise which concedes three parts to evil, and takes 
only one to itself. Shall we say, we will wait for a petition from the 
other districts I Why should we waitT Why should we, with whom 
the right and the duty to act, rest, make a petition a condition prece- 
dent to the removal of evil '^ Why ask to have these objections re- 
peated to us, when we have already determined upon the sufficiency 
of them against the system '? 

But these petitions will come. The first will be from the Warren 
school district ; soon, we shall have another from the Bunker Hill ; and, 
following that, still another from the Winthrop. They will not be so 
numerously signed as this, but nevertheless sufficiently so to demand 
our consideration. Nothing is easier than to get up such a petition. 
What shall we do when, these come '? Suppose we refuse them. 
Upon what ground will we rest that refusal ] What objection is there 
to the plan in the Harvard school, that may not be urged with equal 
force against it in all the others 1 The building is convenient — quite 
as convenient as either of the others ; the teachers are as well quali- 
fied — as watchful, and of as high moral culture ; the children are not 
more vicious. Then there is the argument that the schools should all 
be organized upon one and the same plan ; the advantages of which 
are obvious. These people, when they come, will tell us, that a plan 
that is bad for the Harvard, cannot be well for the Warren or the Win- 



35 

throp or the Bunker Hill. They will tell us that, if it had nothing to 
recommend it for the Harvard, we ought to reform it altogether. And 
what is our answer '? When we have adopted the reasoning of the pe- 
titioners, that the evil arises out of the distinctive nature of the two 
sexes, and that no vigilance of teachers can guard against it, we may- 
find it difficult to show that the distinctive nature of boys and girls at 
the Warren and the Harvard is not much the same. 

Suppose, then, we grant these petitions. We shall immediately 
have nearly the entire population of those districts, and by no means 
an inconsiderable portion of the Harvard, also, at our door, praying us 
to restore the present plan. They will come, not with merely asser- 
tions, but with arguments ; not merely with objections without objec- 
tive validity, but with objections founded in common reason. They 
will bring in their hands the report of our Chairman, if not, also, the 
address of the Mayor. They will point us to the votes of the late 
board, and to the votes of seven members of this present board, who, 
at one time or another, as members of that, have sanctioned the mea- 
sure. They will demand of us the reasons for changing a system that 
we found in operation, adopted by our predecessors with great caution 
and after due deliberation, — as they will have a right to do. And what 
answer have we 1 Can we tell them that the system worked badly ; 
that it promised ill results '? Every principal teacher tell us, it is not 
so. All, save one, say, that its influence upon the manners, habits 
and morals of the scholars, is favorable ; and even he, tells us, that it 
tends to good order and government in the school, and that, since the 
children must be in the same building, it is better that they should 
be in the same room, also. They will ask us, how, then, it came 
about, that some of us turned our backs, not only upon our predeces- 
sors and reason and the testimony of the masters, but upon ourselves, 
also; for unless some of us do that, the system must stand. 

Suppose we say, we did it out of respect for the petitioners ; for 
tl.ere is nothing else that we can say. Will they not ask us : '' Have 
you not respect for us, also?" And what then shall we say? The 
undersigned confesses, that, for his own part at least, in any action 
not founded upon a just consideration of the measure itself, there ap- 
pear difficulties not easily to be overcome in our way. However 
much we may desire to oblige the petitioners, it will not do to decide 
a case like this in the exercise merely of good-will to them. Our 
duty is of a sterner character. These school plans are an important 
means of education. The responsibility of deciding upon them is 
with us. In the exercise of this responsibility, in the opinion of the 
undersigned, we are forced of necessity to refuse the prayer of the 
petitioners. There is no other point at which we can stand. No 



36 

other course will put the question at rest. We may be thought un- 
amiable in so determining ; but that we cannot help. Such is our 
duty. 

The undersigned, therefore, moves the following vote : — that the pe- 
titioners have leave to withdraw their petition. 

SETH J. THOMAS. 

City'of Charlestoum, May 24, 1848. 



In full board of the School Committee, June 6, 1848,— 

On motion that the petitioners have leave to withdraw their petition, 
the yeas and nays being ordered, there were, Yeas five, viz. ; Thomas, 
Gulliver, Tufts, Miskelley and Thorndike. Nays, six, viz. : Moore, 
Sanp;er, Parker, Adams, Culbertson and Frothingham. ' So the motion 
did not prevail. 

Upon motion that the prayer of the petitioners be granted, and that 
the boys occupy one room of the Harvard School House, and the girls 
the other, under their respective Teachers, the yeas and nays being 
ordered, there were. Yeas, five, viz. : Moore, Sanger, Parker, Adams, 
and Culbertson. Nays, six, viz. : Thomas, Gulliver, Tufts, Miskelley, 
Thorndike, and Frothingham. So the motion did not prevail. Where- 
upon, it was voted that the whole subject be indefinitely postponed. 









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