The education of the people (1859).
Address delivered in the Representatives' Chamber
, March 10, 1859.
In connection with this lecture the following remarks of Mr. Phillips
in regard to our public school methods of instruction may well find place.
They were delivered in Boston
, in December, 1876--
The public schools teach her arithmetic, philosophy, trigonometry, geometry, music, botany, and history, and all that class of knowledge.
Seven out of ten of them, remember, are to earn their bread by the labor of their hands.
Well, at fifteen we give that child back to her parents utterly unfitted for any kind of work that is worth a morsel of bread.
If the pupil could only read the ordinary newspaper to three auditors it would be something, but this the scholar, so educated, so produced, cannot do. I repeat it. Four fifths of the girls you present to society at fifteen cannot read a page intelligibly.
We produce only the superficial result of the culture we strive for.
Now I claim that this kind of education injures the boy or girl in at least three ways.
First, they are able only by forgetting what they have learned to earn their day's bread; in the second place, it is earned reluctantly; third, there is no ambition for perfection aroused.
It seems to be a fact which many of the public educators of to-day overlook, that seven tenths of the people born into the world earn their living on matter and not on mind.
Now, friends, I protest against this whole system of common schools in Massachusetts.
It lacks the first element of preparation for life.
We take the young girl or the young boy whose parents are able to lift them into an intellectual profession; we keep them until they are eighteen years old in the high schools; we teach them the sciences; they go to the