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City Document — No. 7. 








THE YEAE 1853. 





In School Committee, April 27, 1853. 

The following persons were appointed as the Annual Examining Committee 
for the Grammar, Primary, and Intermediate Schools. 

Grammar Schools. — Messrs. Peirce, Wayland, Morse, Jones andStreeter. 

Primary and Intermediate Schools. — ^Messrs. Leach, Otis, Ryder, Crafts, 
Cummings and Bugbee. 

' June I, 1853. 

The Chairman and other members of the Examining Committees submitted 
Reports upon the condition of the various departments of the several schools, 
which Reports were accepted. And it was ordered, that two thousand copies 
be printed and distributed to the citizens. 

JOSHUA SEAVER, Secretary. 



Our city has not a more important or sacred interest 
than the care and culture of the three thousand young minds 
between the ages of five and fifteen years, in the various 
schools. Its future wealth, intelligence, social order and 
public virtue will be determined by the success of her edu- 
cators in prosecuting the duties of their office. It ought 
never to be forgotten that we hold in our hands, in an im- 
portant degree, the destinies of the next generation. With- 
out any power of resistance on their part, the young are 
irresistibly moulded by surrounding influences into the 
characters and habits which will grace or disgrace their 
manhood. These influences are very considerably within 
our control, and if faithfully guarded we may decide, with 
a great degree of certainty, the future. When it is consid- 
ered that a large portion of the youth in our public schools 
receive all their mental and moral instruction here, and leave 
them to enter at once upon the active pursuits of life, and 
upon the trial of their principles, their importance cannot be 
over estimated, and the responsibility of their proper support 
and superintendence cannot be exaggerated. A large amount 
of money is annually required to provide public instruction, 
but if judiciously expended, it becomes an economical in- 
vestment, saving to the city larger outlays in other direc- 
tions, and returning, in a few years, compound interest, in 


the form of permanent wealth and public reputation. The 
money expended upon the schools may be regarded as so 
much transferred from appropriations to the police, and to 
the poor-house. It is undoubtedly the fact that the wisest 
measures have not always been taken in the selection of 
sites for the school edifices, and in their construction, and 
that these errors in judgment may have unnecessarily in- 
creased the expenditures for instruction ; but such results 
cannot be avoided under the present system of superintend- 
ing the schools, and are not of a very serious moment when 
compared with the vital educational interests which are to 
be provided for. It is worthy, however, of our considera- 
tioij, whether it would not be judicious even as a mere ques- 
tion of economy, to establish the office of Superintendent of 
schools, and call to its duties an intelligent and experienced 
educator, who shall bring to their discharge the accumulated 
wisdom of years, and devote to them all his time and 

It is easy to conceive how, during the past four or five 
years, the whole expense of such an officer might have been 
saved to the city, in the construction and arrangement of 
buildings. The members of the School Committee being 
almost necessarily local in their observations, cannot form 
an unbiassed opinion of the comparative wants of the dif- 
ferent wards; and, besides, they have not time to give ade- 
quate attention to the numerous details relating to the con- 
struction of a school building. A Superintendent can make 
himself equally familiar with the whole field, can point out 
the most favorable locations, and prepare exact specifica- 
tions as to size and internal arrangement. With an annual 
outlay of between thirty and forty thousand dollars, if there 
were no other than financial reasons, would there not seem to 
be a demand for such an officer? But there are other and 
more peremptory and important reasons calling for such a 
superintendency. With thirty Primary schools, three Gram- 
mar schools, and two High schools indirectly connected 
with our Common school organization, we can hardly ex- 
pect to secure, under our present system of supervision, ho- 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 5 

mogeneity in instruction, and equal progress in all depart- 
ments. It can be readily seen that one strong, experienced 
mind, whose whole powers can be devoted to the service, 
can accomplish infinitely more than can be attained by the 
occasional and limited visits of different members of a large 
committee. But it is the testimony of experience that some 
of the schools receive not even the slight attention of occa- 
sional calls. Quarterly reports suggest important improve- 
ments and notice serious evils, but no active measures are 
taken to secure the one or counteract the other. The same 
state of things continues ; the duties of the school may be 
mechanically attended to, bad habits are confirmed, and 
poorly trained children continue to present themselves for 
admission into our Grammar schools, when they have 
reached the proper age. 

In a number of cities and towns in our Commonwealth, 
some of them numbering a smaller population than our own, 
this office has been instituted, and in every case with suc- 
cess. It has been found both a measure of economy, and a 
means of elevating essentially the tone of instruction in the 
schools. In a report just made by the School Committee of 
the town of Danvers, where a Superintendent of schools has 
been appointed during the year, they say, " Notwithstand- 
ing the period of time has been so brief, and that there are 
inconveniences and obstacles always attendant upon the 
first operation of a new system Avhich impede its progress, 
but which experience obviates or removes, the Committee 
have seen enough to consider it demonstrated, that the 
change adopted by the town in the supervision of the 
schools Avas most judicious and wise, and one which will 
be more beneficial the longer it is continued." Says Dr. 
Wayland of Providence, R. I., in reference to the establish- 
ment of this office in that city : "In this community there 
is, so far as I know, but one opinion as to the necessity of 
this office to the efficiency of our school system. Before the 
present system was adopted, our schools were, I believe, de- 
cidedly inferior to those of other towns, in New England, of 
our population and wealth. Since its adoption we have 


improved so rapidly, that for years we have challenged 
competition with any other city. The most essential re- 
spect in v/hich we have differed from our neighbors is, I 
think, in the office of Superintendent ; and to this I impute 
the advantages we have enjoyed." Such an appointment 
does not supersede the office or labors of the School Com- 
mittee ; the Superintendent is their organ, annually elected 
by them as are the teachers in the schools, giving direction 
and efficiency to their deliberations. 


Connected with the supervision of the schools is an 
important service which can only be rendered by the vol- 
untary action of our citizens, — we refer to occasional visits 
to the schools, by parents and others, during their sessions. 
Such interviews would render valuable service both in dis- 
ciplining and instructing the pupils. The parents would 
obtain an understanding of the measures used by the teach- 
ers to secure the studiousness of the pupils and to counter- 
act any wrong habits, and would be prepared to add their 
own cooperation ; while the scholars will be led to submit 
more patiently to the requirements of the teachers when 
thus sanctioned by the presence of the parents. There 
Avould be a greater amount of confidence felt in the schools, 
as there would be a greater occasion for it, could this object 
be attained. At present, the schools are rarely visited except 
when some act of discipline has, perhaps, enraged the child, 
irritated the parents, and disturbed the equanimity of the 

We do not allow the arrangement of our grounds, the 
building of our houses, the discharge of domestic offices, to 
go on without careful personal supervision, and it is delega- 
ting too important an interest into foreign hands to commit 
our children to the care of strangers without some personal 
knowledge of their plans and abilities. Very few of the 
cases of misunderstanding and irritation would occur if a 
comparatively familiar relation existed between the parent 
and the teachers of the schools. 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 


After all our supervision, and visiting, and systematising, 
nearly all will depend upon the qualities and qualifications 
of the teachers. The best theory of education is the best 
educated and self-disciplined teacher. The best plan of in- 
struction, is the process which the intelligent teacher finds, 
by experiment, to be the most succesful in arousing and 
and developing the faculties of the pupil. There are two 
objects to be sought in a rudimental education. 

1st, To convey valuable information to the pupil, through 
text books and oral communications — to judiciously store 
his memory with the "seeds of things" ; with principles and 
facts that will be indispensable to his further progress in 
science and art, but not to overburden and oppress him by 
their undigested abundance ; and, 

2d, To develop and discipline his own mental powers. 
Here the real power and tact of the teacher will be seen, or the 
lack of them be made painfully obvious. It is worthy of con- 
sideration that success in securing the latter object, always 
secures success in reference to the former ; for in proportion 
as the mind is developed and strengthened, its power of 
assimilating and retaining principles is increased. It is not 
saying in reference to our schools what is not, perhaps, in an 
equal degree as true of others, that this is the great lack. 
The pupils do not think for themselves, and they are unac- 
customed to express their own conceptions in language of 
their own choosing. When questions are asked involving 
the principles discussed in their lessons, but not admitting 
of the verbal answer with which the memory has been 
burdened, a painful embarassment, or an utter mental 
blankness is exhibited. It would be well if a system of 
mental gymnastics, somewhat analogous to the physical 
manipulations now practiced, could be introduced into the 
schools. There cannot be a more enlivening element than 
thought: it would conquer the stupor of weariness, the 
fatigue of heat, and the ennui of monotony. No lesson. 


whether in reading or science should be considered as recit- 
ed, until it is evidently fully comprehended, its ideas re-cast 
in the child's own mind, and expressed in his language. 
This course will awaken thought, secure precision, and a 
facility in expressing thought in chaste and grammatical 

There is an important topic now exciting the attention of 
the friends of the young, and to which, we are happy to 
know, more attention is given by practical teachers — we 
refer to the effect, upon the education and discipline of the 
pupil, of the character and manners of the teacher. A supe- 
rior education and a vivacious manner are not now consid- 
ered the only indispensable qualifications of a good teacher. 
It has been found that the temper and the habits of the 
teacher are among the more powerful educational elements. 
" What he says, and above all what he does, is graving 
itself on the tenacious memory of childhood. His incon- 
sistencies, partialities, ill-temper, tyranny, or selfishnes, 
leave lasting traces," and the nobler elements of a magnan- 
imous character will not fail of reproducing themselves in 
the sensitive nature of the young. During a large propor- 
tion of his active hours, the pupil is in the presence of one, 
whose social position, strength of character, superior abili- 
ties, and constant discipline, render him an object of the 
utmost attention and interest. He cannot raise his eye 
without observing him, and when his eye is not raised, he 
is involuntarily and powerfully impressed by his presence 
and pervading spirit. Every act and habit of the instructor 
is swelled into importance as associated with his position. 
The tide of his emotions, and thoughts, and habits, flows 
back upon these expanding capacities, filling them, and 
leaving its deposits there, as the tide-wave of the ocean 
urges its way into all the bays and indentations of the coast, 
and leaves its marks upon the yielding shores. A very se- 
rious responsibility thus rests upon the teacher. 

All the courteous, and generous, and noble, and moral, 
and religious impressions of home may be distorted or 
effaced by the more powerful and continually repeated 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 9 

impressions of the school room ; or the lack of these, in the 
famiUes of the ignorant and vicious, may be greatly com- 
pensated by the more healthful atmosphere of the child's 
daily home for six hours. It is this involuntary influence 
which gives the teacher so favorable an opportunity of de- 
veloping and moulding the moral faculties of his pupils 
while he is engaged in his daily offices of instruction ; not so 
much by direct precepts, as by the force of his own character, 
and the powerful moral atmosphere he sheds throughout the 
school room is this to be attained. " The secret of the art 
of training up the rising generation to virtuous characters, 
consists not in the power of the teacher to indoctrinate them 
with correct theories of moral duty, and to urge upon them 
arguments for their support, but in inducing, through his 
personal influence and example, a habit of right action, in 
all the pursuits, occupations and pleasures of childhood." 

By a native and cultivatefl nobleness of manner on the 
part of the teacher ; by continued appeals to this trait of 
character, and to high Christian motives; and by conduct- 
ing the daily discipline upon the presumption, manifest to 
all the keen-eyed and quickly impressed youths of the 
school that they are ingenuous and truthful, these noble and 
enobling virtues may be developed into maturity and into 
self-determining power. 


During the past winter a free evening school has been 
held in the City Hall under the charge of Mr Ritchie, the 
City Missionary. An average of nearly two hundred pu- 
pils were in attendance during its session. No one can fail 
to perceive the value and importance of the instruction 
thus bestowed; especially in our community, where so 
many have become residents who have not enjoyed the ad- 
vantages of our common school system, and where the 
pressure of poverty so early draws away many of our 
youth from the day school. Quite a large portion of the 
members of the evening school had been formerly, for longer 


or shorter periods, connected with our Grammar School, but 
had failed even to acquire some of the simple rudiments of 
an English education. It may be well to consider here the 
question, if it be not expedient to afford a different style of 
training to this large class of boys in our Grammar schools 
who will remain there but a short period and whose whole 
preparation for active life will be limited to these few years, 
from that bestowed upon lads who will pass through all the 
divisions, and probably through the High School also. 
Would not such a course of instruction as we find in country 
schools, during the winter sessions, afford them facilities 
to obtain as extended an acquaintance with the rudiments 
of knowledge as is practicable. In all the larger school 
houses in Boston one room is set apart for the instruction 
of this class. They are here pressed forward in the most 
important branches, such as Reading, Writing, plain Spell- 
ing, written Arithmetic, and the simplest outlines of Geog- 
raphy, as rapidly as their powers of acquisition will admit. 
We learn that the experiment has been attended with the 
best results. The evening schools embrace another class, — 
those who are quite mature in years, but who have not yet 
acquired the first rudiments of knowledge. It is not merely 
a dictate of charity, but a suggestion of worldly prudence 
and economy, to bestow an education, and quicken the 
intellectual and moral faculties of all classes composing our 
population. The city has given during the present year 
^200, and the use of the hall. This amount could be con- 
siderably increased, with great profit, both to the pupils and 
to the city. Two such schools at least are needed, and a 
small amount might be judiciously expended for assistants 
in the work of instruction. All our sister cities are encour- 
aging and aiding in sustaining these schools. 

There are certain obvious reasons, why their somewhat 
voluntary character should be continued, and why the 
supervision of the School Committee over them should be 
of the same nature. Let the city, however, become an 
annual and generous subscriber to their funds, and there 
will be no lack of competent men to enter upon this truly 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 11 

benevolent and useful field of effort. The following interest- 
ing communication has been received from Mr. Ritchie, in 
reference to these schools. 

Roxbury, June 1st, 1853. 
Deau Sir, 

The Evening school has been maintained in Roxbury four 
winters. In the winter of 1851-52, two schools were in opera- 
tion, one at the City Hall, and one at Roxbury Point. During 
that season there were about three hundred pupils. Usually the 
number has been between two and three hundred. If there were 
sufficient accommodations, I think four hundred pupils might be 
gathered of those desirous to perfect themselves in elementary 
education. Two schools, one near Tremont street, and one near 
Roxbury Point, would accommodate those who would attend. 
Hitherto, each school has been kept but two evenings in the week. 
If they could be so constituted as to be open four evenings each 
week, the beneficial results to the greater part of the pupils, would 
be more than doubled. Some could not be excused from their 
work shops so often as four times a week. These could attend 
as often as possible. At these schools hundreds have gained 
information which otherwise might not have been opened to them. 
The average attendance has been much better than was expected. 
The instruction has been mainly confined to the elements of 
English education. More than one hundred adult persons have 
commenced with their letters, and can now read and write. 
I think there can be no dispute as to the advantages of these 

As to the probable cost of maintaining them, it cannot amount 

to much. The same rooms used for other schools will answer 

for these. It will be necessary to warm and light them. This 

may cost $1 50 each evening, or $12 a week for both schools. 

In twenty weeks this would amount to $240 00 

Two superintendents of the schools, $100 each, 200 00 

Two assistants, $75 each, 140 00 

Care of rooms and incidental expenses, 110 00 

$700 00 
I think the schools might be for the present conducted by the 
city, at an expense of $700, or one school with accommodations 
for two hundred and fifty pupils, might be kept at a cost of 
about $500. Such an arrangement as that above indicated, 
would offer opportunities for gentlemen and ladies to volunteer 
their services as teachers in. the schools. 

I wish that you might make some suggestions that would bring 
this whole matter up for consideration. The subject is exciting 
much interest in other places. It can be more useful nowhere 
than here. 

Very truly yours, JAMES RITCHIE. 



During the past year, the Act of the Legislature in refer- 
ence to habitual truancy has been accepted by the city au- 
thorities, and two officers in connection with the Marshal of 
the city, were appointed. to carry out its provisions. In the 
eastern portion of the city, under the charge of Mr. W. D. 
Cook, the duties of the office have been most efficiently dis- 
charged, and every instance of perverse absence from school 
has been corrected, or the penalties of the statute adminis- 
tered. Seven boys have been sent to the State Reform 
School at Westboro', and two to Brook Farm. In all these 
instances the boys had fallen into the habit of petty larceny 
in addition to truancy. The Principal of the Dearborn 
School has found in Mr. Cook, an intelligent, pains-taking 
and cheerful assistant in the labor of securing the punctual 
attendance of his pupils. 

In the other district, through some misunderstanding on 
the part of the officer, the same result has not been secured, 
and serious complaints have been made in reference to the 
vagrancy of boys who should be found in the schools. We 
understand that immediate measures are to be taken to cor- 
rect this evil. 


The majority of the Primary school edifices are convenient, 
comfortably arranged for the pupils, and, generally, well 
adapted to the purposes for which they were built. A few 
still remain, a shame to the community, badly ventilated, 
with uncomfortable seats, injuring the physical health of 
the pupil, while they afford poor opportunities for the devel- 
opment of his mind. The call for increased accommoda- 
tions is both imperative, and, from various causes, unusu- 
ally large at the present time. By the burning of the 
building in Ward Two, two schools were deprived of their 
rooms. At this time the crowded state of the schools called 
for the erection of another edifice in that part of the city. It 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 13 

is proposed to erect a brick building upon the city land suf- 
ficiently large to meet the present and prospective wants of 
the vicinity for Primary school accommodations. An addi- 
tional school house is needed, at as early a date as it can 
be provided, in Ward One; and the preliminary measures 
have been taken to secure it. 

In Appleton place there is a demand for a building; and 
in some location near the junction of St. James and Warren 
streets there has existed for a long period the necessity for a 
Primary school house. All these calls upon the purse of the 
city cannot be answered at once ; but as rapidly as is practi- 
cable they must be met. Here, also, the important aid that a 
Superintendent of schools could afford, in deciding upon the 
comparative claims of the different localities, and in prepar- 
ing plans for the difierent edifices, can be seen. 

The Dudley Grammar School has for more than a year 
been unable to accommodate the applicants for seats, and 
a division of the school now meets in a hired room. As 
this want will be increased annually by the girls sent from 
all the Primary schools, active measures must be taken at 
once to make permament provision for their accommodation. 

The Washington school is also full. By changing the ar- 
rangements of the present edifice, building out the wings, and 
dividing the rooms, its capacity may be greatly increased, 
each division may be instructed in a separate room, and 
one male teacher, only, (the principal,) be required to su- 
perintend the school. By such a change, the expense of 
which would be comparatively small, the necessity of a 
new Grammar school house for boys will be postponed for 
several years, a great enconomy in the cost of instruction, 
and better success, through the means of separate rooms, 
will be secured, as well as a more perfect system of clasifi- 
cation from the increased number of pupils that can be ac- 

In the Dearborn School, a room yet remains unocupied ; 
it is thought, however, that there will be a demand for it in 
the district during the coming year. The school yard" is in 
a most uncomfortable state — unpleasant to the eye and an 


inconvenient play ground for the boys. It will, we trust, 
be soon graded and in the coming fall be shaded and 
adorned by suitable forest trees 


A question has been started of late in the Board as to the 
expediency of changing its organization, so far as to have 
the Mayor of the city, ex officio, chairman of the School 
Committee. While this matter was under consideration, 
it was understood that a petition had been presented from 
the Board of Aldermen and Common Council, to the Legis- 
lature for the above, and for still further changes. As the 
subject had not been fully discussed, and serious objections 
were raised to a part of the proposed alteration, it only 
remained for this Board to protest against the granting of 
the petition, in order to secure farther space for delibera- 

There are obvious reasons, showing the importance of an 
intimate relation between this and the other Boards in the 
city government, and rendering the presence of the Mayor 
of the city desirable at the meetings of the School Com- 
mittee. A larger representation from the public authorities 
seems unnecessary, as the objects to be secured can be fully 
attained through the presence and influence of the Mayor. 
And it is but justice to the citizens that those expressly 
appointed to the care of the schools, should perform the 
appropriate functions of their oflice. We would therefore 
recommmend to the city government to petition the next 
Legislature for such a change in the charter of the city, 
as will constitute the Mayor, ex officio, chairman of this 


Chairman of Ex. Co7n. of Grammar Schools. 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 15 


J. Plympton, Principal. 

The Committee to whom was allotted the examination 
of the Dudley School, are happy to be able to express their 
satisfaction with its results. While there is an evident 
difference in the appearance of the divisions composing the 
school, there is no one which does not present evidences 
of diligence on the part of the teacher, and some of them 
exhibit an earnestness and skill in the instructor deserving 
special commendation. In no portion of the school is there 
more evidence of progress than in the first division. The 
Principal and his intelligent Assistant have labored zealously 
to bestow upon their pupils the benefits of their attainments 
and experience, and, what is even more to be desired, to 
develop their own powers, and to secure habits of thought 
and a facility of expression. Although the average age of 
the scholars is no higher, the standard of attainments is 
much in advance of the division two years ago. The 
examination in History and Geography, the latter of which, 
may be considered the experimentum cnicis, was peculiarly 
satisfactory. Evidently the teacher has discovered the 
secret of success in teaching these studies, and nothing but 
a further prosecution of the same plan is necessary to secure 
a most desirable familiarity with these important branches. 
If the same system of instruction in these studies were in- 
troduced into the lower divisions, the same success might 
be expected. We commend the experiment to the well- 
qualified and inquiring teachers in these divisions. Under 
the text-book process of teaching Geography, no one can 
feel the truth more than themselves, that all the time em- 
ployed is well nigh thrown away. By oral instruction, by 
the use of the globe and the map, by selecting a few local 
centres, and securing destinct impressions of the relative 
positions of the most important places upon the earth, and 
by the drawing of outline maps, solid and valuable geo- 


graphical information may be conveyed to the pupils. In 
reading there is considerable difference in the proficiency 
of the divisions ; some of the lower, reading comparatively 
better than the more advanced. The reading in the first 
division was excellent ; in some of the others, there is an 
unpleasant monotonousness, and apparent want of under- 
standing the idea of the writer. Of course where the 
thought of the subject is not comprehended, there must be 
a failure in attempting to convey the sense to others. 

There are two ends to be had in view in forming a good 
style of reading. 

1st — To convey the exact meaning of the author; and 
2iid — To vary the style of reading and the tones of the 
voice in accordance with the different descriptions of litera- 
ture perused. It is a good device, often, to introduce a dif- 
ferent book from the regular text-book — some simple news- 
paper narrative perhaps — as a test of the child's ability, 
and to break up any tendency to a rhetorical tone. 

In penmanship and in composition the school fully sus- 
tains the reputation it has enjoyed in these departments. 
We were peculiarly pleased with the specimens of original 
drawing exhibited by the pupils ; at once, complimentary 
to Mr. Whitaker, their teacher, and to their own diligence 
and taste. The singing we did not hear, but we learned 
that Mr. Southard, the master of music, had given general 
satisfaction in this graceful art. 

As a whole, — in discipline, life and attainments, the 
Committee feel authorized to assure the parents and citizens 
generally that the Dudley School is deserving of their con- 
fidence, and that it is, in a good degree meeting the require- 
ments of its important office. 


1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 17 

G. M. Weston, Principal. 

The Committee deem it proper to state a few facts, at the 
commencement of their report upon this school. Mr. Reed 
its former principal has lately retired from the office, which 
he held for many years, and been succeeded by Mr. Weston, 
a gentleman, we are told, of much experience in teacliing, 
and who comes among us with a disposition to devote him- 
self faithfully to his responsible duties. His entrance upon 
office, however, was at an unfortunate time, owing to the 
unseasonable period, chosen by the late principal, for leav- 
ing, which was nearly at the close of the term. At such a 
time, little or nothing could be done by his successor, to pre- 
pare the first Division for the inspection of the Committee. 
His reasons for vacating office at so untoward a moment, 
we neither know, nor do we wish to inquire into them. 

Another change has been made in this school : we refer 
to the third division, in which Mr. Brown has been super- 
seded by Miss Page. The former, though giving entire 
satisfaction, was, thought to be occupying a situation which 
could be equally well filled by a female teacher, who would 
perform the required duties, at quite a saving to the city ; 
and this expectation, we have reason to believe will be fully 

We proceed next to give the results of the Examination. 
And it is proper to state, that of the Committee appointed 
for this purpose, one was prevented by professional duties 
from examining more than the 'first and fourth divisions, 
leaving all the others to his coadjutor, who generously 
consented to this accession of labor. According to his 
report he awards to the 2d, 3d, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th divis- 
ions, especially to the Sd, the quality of excellent; by 
which he means, that in the studies to which he called their 
attention, he thinks them respectively entitled to this meed 
of praise, as a whole, though there were in all, individual 
and marked exceptions, which, were there room for minute 


specifications, he should have placed in a far lower grade. 
To be enabled to report so favorably, even with this draw- 
back just mentioned, is matter of gratulation; and it is 
made, with the more pleasure, on account of the high esti- 
mate, formed by the Committee, of the teachers of this 
school, and of the diligence and fidelity with which they 
are endeavoring to fulfil their important trust. 

Respecting the first and fourth divisions, the examiner is 
not able to report quite as favorably. The minutes made 
by him, at the time of examination, are, that two classes in 
the first division were, in Arithmetic good, and the third 
class only fair. The whole division in Reading, and in 
Grammar good. The fourth division in Reading, Arithme- 
tic, and Geography, and Definitions, were far from excellent. 
No blame is cast, or intended to be cast, upon the teacher, 
whom we regard as ranking high in her profession, but the 
same division is not always filled by a succession of equally 
bright scholars — and then the same talent and labor devoted 
to their instruction, will not produce equally cheering results. 

The general order of this school is good ; the discipline 
efficient ; the prevailing tone, studious. The degree of 
regularity and punctuality is highly respectable, but admits 
of great improvement, which can be made only by the sin- 
cere cooperation of parents. An average daily absence of 
34, is more than ought to occur in a school of 380 pupils. 
Such an amount of delinquent attendance is tantamount to 
the dismission every day of an entire division. 

The Committee will now offer some miscellaneous re- 
marks, which have been suggested to them in the discharge 
of their duties as examiners. And first, with regard to 
Penmanship. This important branch of education we think 
far behind what might reasonably be expected. Wherever 
the fault lies, the results are not satisfactory. Even in the 
first divison, in which boys have been, on an average, five 
and a half years employed in learning this art, their chi- 
rography is, to say the best, awkward and imperfect ; nor 
did we find scarcely an instance of plain, legible, much 
less, beautiful writing. And yet these boys have received 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 19 

the highest advantages of this school, and most of them are 
to have no other, preparatory to the business of hfe. As 
we descend to other divisions, the hke deficiencies are 
found, and call for improvement. 

Another remark suggested to the Committee, is the great 
advantage that would be derived from making teaching less 
a matter of rote and memory, and more a matter of rnental 
excitement in the pupil, the calling forth of his powers of 
reasoning and discrimination, and the obliging him to use 
and apply his knowledge. Instances were found — and 
they are not peculiar to this school — in which a boy, in 
the midst of a glib recitation of the words of the book, if 
called upon to tell the meaning of what is so fluently 
uttered, would be instantly at a stand, and by his mute 
surprise, show that there was but one faculty, which he 
was in the habit of exercising. What is needed, we sup- 
pose, is the direct action of the mind of the teacher upon the 
pupil's, by means of questions, examples, illustrations ; thus 
throwing a boy more upon his own resources, and compell- 
ing him to think, and to use his own faculties. This might 
be done in geography, arithmetic, reading, definitions, and 
especially in the higher branches. Without such training, 
a boy may learn verbatim all that is in a book, and yet not 
be educated, i. e. not have his mind drawn out and ex- 
ercised in the knowledge contained in that book. 

Another remark suggested to the Committee, pertains to 
the rule of advancement in our Grammar schools, which we 
believe to be, at present, that all those who enter any divis- 
ion, are to remain with it to the end of the year, and then 
rise to the one above it. We doubt the wisdom of this plan. 
In every division are found boys, more richly endowed by 
nature, than others ; of brighter faculties, and greater facili- 
ty of acquisition. These, of course, outstrip their comrades, 
and are qualified in a few'months. for the next higher grade 
of instruction. And if not advanced, they show a manifest 
disinclination for study, and fall into indolent habits. For 
nothing breeds laziness more surely, than a compulsory rou- 
tine of easy effort. And hence many parents complain that 


their boys have not enough to do, to task their energies ; but 
are kept plodding along, at a pace, which is fatal to scholar- 
like spirit and enterprise. A wiser policy, we think would be, 
to allow every boy, of superior ability and diligence, to 
advance to the next division, just so soon as in the judg- 
ment of the principal, he is qualified. The effect would be 
to provoke to emulation, those who, now through a large 
part of the year, are dreaming over tasks too easy and in- 
sufficient to awaken them to full mental activity. 

Another remark suggested to the Committee, is the neces- 
sity of greater attention bein^ paid to morals in this school. 
It is within the personal knowledge of the writer, that he 
seldom or never passes the play-ground, when filled with 
boys, without hearing language of obscenity and profaneness, 
utterly shocking to those of any refinement. Nor is it differ- 
ent elsewhere. In almost every case, of boys recognized as 
belonging to this school, assembled to play at marbles, or 
ball, or merely conversing together, he has been pained by 
overhearing the same filthy and profane style of talking. 
To such an extent has this evil now grown, that it keeps 
many of our most respectable families from sending their 
children, where they are exposed to such pollution. We 
feel, therefore, bound to call attention to this evil. As the 
public guardians of our schools, and concerned to promote 
their moral, as well as intellectual character, we are con- 
strained to urge a reform in this respect. And we are happy 
to say, that the new principal of this school, deeply im- 
pressed with the evil to which we have alluded, has entered 
upon his duties, with the full determination of doing all in 
his power to effect a favorable change. In his efforts, to 
this end, we bespeak for him the utmost cooperation of the 
Committee ; and have entire confidence that, though the 
attempt may be difficult, yet if persevered in with vigor and 
energy, albeit with mildness, it will be successful, and 
change the whole moral tone of this otherwise flourishing 



1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 21 

W. H. LoKG, Principal. 

This school was organized in March, 1852, and Mr. W. 
H. Long appointed principal. The corps of teachers con- 
sists of the principal and four female assistants ; and, as we 
are to judge of their faithfulness to the trusts committed to 
them, by the general appearance of the pupils, we may 
safely assert that they have been untiring in their efforts to 
advance the interests of the school. In the recitations in 
the different branches, there appeared a uniform degree of 
excellence, denoting that no one particular study was made 
more prominent than another, but that it was the endeavor 
of the teachers to give the pupils thorough and systematic 
instruction in each and every branch of study. The writ- 
ing books were neat, and marked improvement was noticed 
in many of them. The appearance of many of the draw- 
ing books indicated that some of the pupils are possessed of 
a decided taste for this useful branch — but the course of 
instruction having been commenced so recently it is hardly 
proper to fix any standard by which to judge of their profi- 

Some very fine specimens of map drawing were exhibit- 
ed which presented the physical features of different coun- 
tries very correctly. 

It may be proper to notice (although not constituting a 
part of the annual examination) the public exhibition given 
by the pupils, at the close of the term, consisting of Decla- 
mations, Recitations in the various studies, and Singing, 
at which were present members of the Committee and 
parents and friends of the scholars. The exercises were 
interesting, and spirited, and gave great pleasure to the 
large audience present. The Declamation and Singing 
were specially excellent, and due credit should be awarded 
the teacher of music, Mr. Southard, for his efficient and 
thorough instruction in this pleasing exercise. 


The Dearborn school house is admirably constructed for 
the convenience, and comfort of the scholars, there being a 
separate room for each division, and a spacious hall in the 
second story for the assembling of all the scholars as occa- 
sion may require. We conceive this arrangement to be a 
great improvement upon the plan of some other of our 
school houses where two or three teachers are necessarily 
engaged in hearing recitations at the same time. The ad- 
vantages of having a separate room for each division can 
hardly be overestimated. 



S. M. Weston, Principal. 

Examined May 19-20, 1853. 

This school is under the conjoint direction of the Trus- 
tees of the School Fund and the School Committee. The 
whole of the income from the funds of the Trustees is 
appropriated to the support of the two High schools. The 
Latin School is under their entire supervision. Of course 
the larger the income from the funds of the Trustees, the 
less the expense of the English High School to the city, — 
all other things being equal. 

As the best interests of our city called for an Eng- 
lish High School, and as such an establishment, in the 
judgment of many, was required by the Statute of the 
Commonwealth, the members of the School Committee 
were pleased to enter into this arrangement with the 

The school commenced with thirty boys, on the first of 
September last, under the charge of the present principal. 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 23 

There are now connected with it twent37--eight boys, — two 
having left during the year on account of sickness; of 
these six are between sixteen and seventeen years of age, 
eight between fifteen and sixteen, six between fourteen and 
fifteen, seven between thirteen and fourteen, and one is 
between twelve and thirteen. 

As was anticipated in the beginning, the present accom- 
modations for the schoool are barely sufficient for one Divi- 
sion, whereas the course of instruction covering three years, 
contemplates three Divisions. No building could be had, 
suitably located, that would answer the wants of the school; 
an arrangement was therefore entered into between the City 
and Trustees, by which the latter are to erect a proper 
building upon their land now occupied in part by the 
Latin School House. That building it is expected, will be 
ready for use by the first of September next, at which time 
the second Division will enter. 

Candidates for admission to the English High School are 
examined during the last week of the Summer term of the 
Grammar schools. They must be twelve years of age and 
pass a successful examination upon such questions, as in the 
judgment of the Commiltee, it is proper to put them. 
There is but one examination of candidates during the 

The Committee are happy to express their renewed confi- 
dence in the efficiency of the English High School. Mr. 
Weston has proved himself to be such a teacher as was 
needed for that responsible position, and under his judicious 
but thorough training, the scholars have made great pro- 
gress, notwithstanding the many inconveniences under 
which they have labored. 

The following studies have been attended to during the 
three terms of the first yeai* now passed ; Review of the 
preparatory studies in the Grammar schools; Ancient Geog- 
raphy ; General History; Algebra; French. Some atten- 
tion has also been given to the rules of spelling, and punc- 
tuation; Composition and Declamation have had their 
appropriate share of time. — The recitations in History, were. 



with very few exceptions, prepared out of school. Given in 
connection with maps drawn from memory upon the black- 
board by the scholars, they formed not only a profitable but 
highly agreeable exercise. The Committee would espec- 
ially recommend this plan of teaching History. It not only 
locates events, but becomes a powerful aid to the memory 
through the force of association. The general promptness 
of the scholars in History, speaks well for the manner in 
which they have spent their time out of school. Indeed, 
the scholars, with very few exceptions, have shown a com- 
mendable interest in their studies from the very first ; and 
it affords the Committee great pleasure to bear testimony to 
their general good behavior, as well as prompt and regular 
attendance upon school. 

The discipline of the school is worthy of special commen- 
dation. It is rigid but in no sense tyrannical. The moral 
sense of the scholar is largely addressed, with the purpose 
of inspiring self-respect, and in this regard we think the 
teacher has been very successful. 

There is every reason to believe that this school, will ere 
long, occupy a prominent place among the English High 
Schools of our State. 


1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 25 


There are under the supervision of the School Committee 
of Roxbury, one Iiitermediate and thirty Primary schools, 
containing about 1400 scholars. Most of these schools, 
upon examination, have been found to be in a satisfactory 
condition ; and when compared with the standard of former 
years, or with schools of a similar grade in other places, 
the Committee would be hardly justified in complaining 
of their want of thoroughness and efficiency. 

The teachers, with but few exceptions, have labored with 
zeal and fidelity, and with their present mode of teaching, 
and their limited experience, have accomplished all that 
could reasonably be expected. But the cause of education 
should be progressive : its course should ever be onward. 
The enquiry should be, not only what has been, but what 
can be accomplished. And all who share the responsibilities 
of caring for our common schools, should earnestly press 
the enquiries, — by what means, or by what agencies, can 
our schools be elevated and their efiiciency increased ; and 
in what way can the greatest amount of knowledge be im- 
parted in the shortest time, and at the least expense. Few 
questions, at the present time, are worthy of more serious 
consideration than these. 

We propose to make a few suggestions in regard to 


modes and methods of teaching, by which, we think, greater 
thoroughness and efficiency can be secured. The remarks 
we propose to make, are not specially appUcable to Rox- 
bury, but to all schools of a similar grade. We remark, 
first, in regard to 


Much of the reading in Primary schools is unconnected 
and mechanical. The children, when reading, appear to 
be under restraint. They seldom speak with the same 
ease, freedom and grace, and with the same natural tones 
with which they converse. This, without doubt, must be 
attributed to defective early instruction, either in the school 
room, or at home, or to both. If we carefully examine into 
the manner in which children are taught, we shall find, 
with but few exceptions, that they learn the names of the 
letters before they are at all acquainted with the sounds they 
represent, and they almost universally utter these sounds 
with the rising inflection of the voice; as, a', b', c', etc. 
Thus a forced and unnatural habit of pronouncing words 
and sentences is early formed, which is corrected with great 
difficulty in after life. Now we would suggest that child- 
ren first be taught, as far as practicable, to utter the sounds, 
after the teacher, with natural and conversational tones, 
before learning the names of the letters that represent these 
sounds. This can easily be done by the whole class in 
concert, As soon as the pupils can enunciate with distinct- 
ness and accuracy, any of these sounds, let the teacher write 
the letters representing them on the black-board, or point to 
them on a printed card. By proceeding in this way, and 
by selecting at first, the simplest sounds, and those which 
are the least difficult to utter, pupils will readily acquire an 
easy and natural mode of utterance. And as the pupil 
advances, he should be taught, in connection with his usual 
reading lessons, to pronounce such words and sentences as 
he has been accustomed to hear in conversation. 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 2,7 

We would make another suggestion, in reference to form- 
ing habits of distinct articulation. This can be done most 
effectually, by writing lists of Avords on the black-board, 
and requiring the pupil to pronounce them without spelling, 
slowly and with distinctness. It may be well at first, to 
select the words from the lessons they are about to read. 
Afterwards, words may be selected that contain some sylla- 
ble of difficult utterance. At last, long and difficult words 
may be selected, upon which there should be a daily drill 
exercise. In this way, an easy, graceful and distinct utter- 
ance can be acquired. As soon as the pupils can read 
sentences with any degree of fluency; they should be re- 
quired, at the close of each recitation, to state in their own 
language, what they had been reading about. In this way 
they can be taught to connect ideas with the sounds of 
words, which is almost universally neglected. 

Spelling should always be connected with reading, so that 
the sounds of words and their correct spelling, should be 
associated in the mind of the pupil. There should also be 
a separate exercise in spelling, in which the attention of the 
pupil should be directed to the classes of words, which con- 
tain one or more silent letters, and to those in which, differ- 
ent combinations of letters represent nearly, or exactly, the 
same sound. In this last exercise, the progress of the pupil 
must necessarily be very slow. 


No branch of study is taught in our Primary schools, 
with less satisfactory results than geography. In a majori- 
ty of cases we doubt whether any definite, precise and 
accurate knowledge of geography is obtained by the pupils. 
While they can point out on the map the names of impor- 
tant places, they have not the least conception either of the 
direction or the relative situation of these places. When a 
class commences the study of geography, the first step is to 


ascertain, from each pupil what knowledge he has of the 
earth from personal observation, what places he has seen, 
and what ideas he has of locality. This must form the 
basis of all future knowledge. They must then form a 
correct idea of direction, and be able to designate accurately 
any point of the compass. The next idea for the pupil to 
acquire, is that of distance. Much time and skill on the 
part of the teacher will be requisite, to convey to the mind, 
of the pupil clearly and distinctly these two ideas, which 
are fundamental in the study of geography. Questions like 
the following may be asked of each pupil. What direction 
does he live from the school house? How long time will be 
required to walk the distance between his home and the 
school house ? What is the direction to the nearest town or 
city? &c. By travelling North, South, East or West, what 
places will he pass through ? They should early acquire a 
knowledge of the form and magnitude of the earth. Vari- 
ous modes of illustration adapted to the diiferent capacities 
of children will be requisite to convey to their minds cor- 
rectly this important idea. The teacher may at first com- 
pare the earth to a small globe, and then by calling into 
exercise their imaginations, lead them by degrees to imag- 
ine one larger, and larger and larger, till they are able to 
form some conception of the form and size of the earth. 

Next to the form and magnitude of the earth and the 
two great divisions of its surface, the pupil should be taught 
the use of latitude and longitude, and also how distances 
can be measured on the map or globe. The great outlines 
of one or more of the countries will next claim the attention 
of the teacher. The boundary of each country and of each 
subdivision should always be compared with a straight line, 
and the pupil be required to point out the deviations from 
the line in every point. By comparing the outlines of the 
several countries, and the coast of each to straight lines the 
pupil will obtain a correct idea of form. The three ideas 
of direction, distance, and form, constitute the basis of all 
geographical knowledge. And to these the pupil should be 

1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 7. 29 

taught always to refer. The names of important places 
should always be connected with the idea of direction and 
distance, not only from the place where the pupil resides, 
but also from other important places. The direct! »n of oi e 
place from another, and the distance can easily be represen- 
ted on a black-board, by means of lines, after adopting some 
scale of miles as a standard of measure. The pupil must 
learn the length of a degree of latitude, and the length 
of a degree of longitude, corresponding to each degree of 

It will be found very convenient to have a rule, on which 
there is drawn a scale of miles to use on the black-board. 


We would suggest, also, an improvement in the mode of 
teaching mental arithmetic. There should be more oral 
exercises, in which the whole school should engage. The 
teacher should guard particularly against allowing the pupil 
to acquire a mechanical manner of recitation, by following 
too closely the order of questions in the book. To remedy 
this, a great variety of questions should be asked in different 
forms. But more than all, the teacher must make constant 
use of the black-board in illustrating the past lessons, and 
in pointing out the connection between oral and written 
arithemetic. As soon as pupils can combine figures readily, 
and can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, they should be 
taught to do this on the slate, and on the black-board. 
Most pupils go through with their mental arithmetic, with- 
out acquiring but little preparation for written. All possible 
intellectual discipline should first be secured without the 
aid of slate or black-board, and then the several processes 
should be represented to the eye, to impress them more 
deeply on the mind. Intellectual and written arithmetic,- 
ought never to be separated ; they should be commenced 
and finished together. 


There are many other subjects upon which the highest 
success of schools depend, which cannot now be treated of 
at length ; such as vivacity on the part of the teachers ; their 
entire self-control ; and an uniform kindness of manner, 
combined with decision and firmness in regard to the right. 
To acquire these important requisites, should be the aim of 
every teacher, who aspires to be eminently successful in one 
of the most honorable and important stations of life. 

All which is respectfully submitted, 


Chairman Ex, Com. Primary Schools.