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[p. 21]

Some Unpublished School reports.

[The annual reports of the schools for the years 1835-6, 1837-8, 1838-9, which were read in town meeting, but never printed, have been published in the ‘Register’ of October. 1899. The report for 1839-40 is not on file, but a special one made November, 1840, is among the papers in the office of the city clerk as well as the regular report for the year 1841-42, both of which are here given.—Ed.]

Report of School Committee, Nov. 9, 1840.

Accepted by the town.

Your Committee in the discharge of their duty beg leave to offer this extra Report:—

To propose to the Town some plan for the accommodation of the numerous scholars attending our public schools.—

With the exception of Miss Abbott's school at the west end of the town there is scarcely a seat in any of the Public Schools unoccupied; while a large number of scholars are expected to come in as usual after Thanksgiving. Your Committee have thought of two modes of overcoming this difficulty—1st. to build a spacious school-house in the center of the Town, and enlarge the one south of the river.—or—2nd. to place the minimum age at which children maybe admitted to the public schools at five years instead of four.—The former course would be attended with a heavy expense, which the town at present is ill-prepared to meet: besides, were the Town ready to incur the expense, the school-houses could not be prepared in season to accommodate the schools the coming winter: moreover, the South school-house is so incommoded by the smoke and oil of a neighboring factory that it is doubtful in the opinion of your committee whether it ever ought to be enlarged, or even retained as a school-house unless the nuisance can be removed.—Your Corn. therefore, recommend the latter course.—It is a well-attested fact that many children are injured in body and mind by the [p. 22] confinement of a school-room at the tender age of four years; and it is very questionable whether children admitted to the public schools at four years, will be farther advanced at eight, than those admitted at five. There are some two hundred scholars in the schools between four and eight years of age. Admit none under five, and you reduce that number about one quarter part, and will be able to accommodate the remainder for several years to come.—

With these views, your Committee recommend as a matter of expediency to admit no scholars to the public schools, under five years of age.—

Galen James, School Com. Samuel Gregg, School Com. James O. Curtis, School Com. Alexander Gregg, School Com. Martin Burridge, School Com. Medford, Nov. 7, 1840.

Report of School Committee, accepted March 7, 1842.

The School Committee report: That they have given earnest attention to their arduous trust. The experience of every month gives them a deeper sense of the importance of frequently visiting and carefully watching over the interests of the public schools. Accordingly they have not been sparing of time or labour. They have held regular meetings monthly, and frequently met at other times, when the welfare of the schools called for special attention. In addition to the usual public examinations, some part of the Committee have visited every school at least once a month, generally much oftener. And from all this actual observation they are fully satisfied that there has been a progressive improvement in the condition of the Schools collectively through the past year. A spirit of order & decency prevails. The progress of the scholars indicates [p. 23] great dilligence in them and in their Instructors. The discipline is excellent without severity; and the method of teaching is most thorough and accurate. In these respects it is believed that our schools will bear a comparison with any similar institutions in the State.

It is a well known fact that children are apt to fall into idle habits and soon come to take little interest in Schools, which are neglected by their parents. The Committee cannot too strongly urge upon their fellow citizens the importance of visiting the public schools often, that they may encourage and stimulate both Teachers and Pupils by their attention, and see for themselves in what manner & with what results their money is expended. They should remember that their outlay for the purposes of education is invested in the character and best interest of the rising generation; and, that, if well employed, it will yield a return richer than any other expenditure. If parents would make the most of their advantages, let them cherish in their children a profound respect for the character and authority of their Instructors; and be careful that they are constant & punctual in their attendance at School. Much harm is often heedlessly done by complaining sometimes in the presence of pupils—without a sufficient knowledge of facts.

The Committee are of opinion that the appropriation of the last year has been profitably expended. They recommend the continuance of the present organization of the Public Schools, the usefulness of which becomes every year more apparent. They should be cherished as the pride and hope of the Town. Let every effort be made to sustain them at the highest point of excellence, that they may afford to all the means of a thorough practical education; that, in these seminaries, the children of the poor and the rich may be trained together, with feelings and principles in harmony with the genius of our institutions, which recognize no distinctions but such as arise from character. [p. 24]

In this connexion the Committee beg leave to suggest to parents, and other friends of improvment, that for a trifling expense they can have access to a well chosen library, now large and every year growing in value and importance. Good books are safe companions; and a relish for them is the source at once of the highest & the cheapest enjoyment. And this is not all. It is impossible to calculate the amount of knowledge which children may derive from these works of the living and the dead, before they arrive at maturity. Nothing can do so much as a habit of reading to cherish purity of character, to promote intelligence and carry out plans of public improvement indefinitely beyond the point where it must be left by the Public Schools.

The number of Scholars has increased so considerably that it has been necessary to provide additional accommodations in some of the schoolrooms; and these are still too small for convenience & comfort. The number of pupils is at present,

In the High School 75
East Grammar School
East Primary School
Centre Grammar School
South Primary School
West Primary School.

During the last year the Committee have been obliged to make several alterations in School houses in order to accommodate the constantly increasing numbers of Scholars. And they would suggest that some of them are too small for convenience and comfort.

To meet the expenses of the Schools for the present year the Committee recommend the appropriation of $3,200.

All which is respectfully submitted.

Alexander Gregg, School Committee. C. Stetson, School Committee. H. Ballou, 2d, School Committee. Jos. W. Mitchell, School Committee. Benj. Moore, School Committee. John W. Bacon, School Committee. A. R. Baker. School Committee. Medford, March 7, 1842.

[p. 25]

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