Page images

(1855,) the question arose, “Shall we give it up, or try some other plan?” The result of discussion and conference was, that Mr. Hovey, who had been elected president of the association, was likewise appointed editor, responsible for the whole care of the journal, literary and financial. It seemed a desperate undertaking. The previous publishers merely uttered the general impression, when they published the remark that, “if Mr. Hovey had $500 or $1,000, which he wanted to throw away in a good cause, he had an opportunity.” But by his own enterprise, with the aid of educational friends and good publishers, the “ Teachersoon had a respectable circulation of more than seventeen hundred. It was published, indeed, the first year at a pecuniary loss, the loss being increased by the burning of a number ready for issue ; but the circulation increased to over two thousand, and there was a small surplus at the close of the second year, so that the editor was left unincumbered with debt, though with no compensation for his labor. The “ Teacher” was now a paying journal.

By means of this monthly, Mr. Hovey and other friends of education advocated various measures adapted to raise the standard of popular education, and especially the establishment of a school for the training of teachers. As the fruit of these and similar efforts, essential changes were effected in the school law, and the principle of “free schools supported by taxation" was embodied in it. The sentiment in favor of a normal school gained constantly in depth and strength, until the popular will found expression in the normal school act of 1856–7.*

The act required the university to be located where the most favorable offer should be made; and, had not Peoria been compelled to compete against a grant of public lands to the value of $70,000, the location must inevitably have been there.

It is but just to say that much the largest amount of ready money ($50,000) was offered by Peoria, where the utmost euthusiasm prevailed in subscribing for the location. Owing to the deep interest which had been awakened in this city by the efforts of Mr. Hovey and others, all classes of men, from the wealthy banker down to the poor laborer in the street, were ready to give; and, had it been thought necessary, a much larger sum, it is said, would have been pledged.

But the institution was awarded to McLean County, in consideration of her donation of $70,000 in lands and subscriptions by her citizens of an equal amount. In May, 1857, Messrs. Rex and Hovey

At this time Mr. Powell was superintendent of public instruction, Mr. Hovey editor of the INinois Teacher," and Simeon Wright president of the State Teachers' Association and chairman of the committee of " lobby members " to the legislature, commissioned by the executive committee of the association to prepare and urge the passage of a bill creating such an institution.

This was

he sure

were appointed “ to visit various normal and high schools of the East, to report on the subject of building, internal arrangements," etc. Their report was presented June 23d, and at the same meeting Mr. Hovey was recommended by the committee on officers, and elected principal of the university. On the 18th of August it was resolved to hire rooms and open the school the ensuing autumn. accordingly done ; and, on the morning of October 5th, Mr. Hovey and Mr. Ira Moore, with whose labors the growth and success of the school are yet identified, were in a large hall, ready for the pupils. To

the proper furniture of the hall had not arrived, and the numnber of pupils who came on that day was only nineteen, but the two men there in waiting for labor and success were not easily disheartened; the “ blue days " passed, the furniture arrived, and the number of scholars increased to forty-five. Since the first term the school has steadily gained in numbers and in efficiency; the buildings are in process of erection, and the university promises to be henceforth a great and beneficent power in the state, raising the standard of qualifications for the office of teaching, sending forth annually a large number of skillful and devoted laborers, and kindling every where a deeper interest in popular education.

By his efforts as president of the State Teachers' Association, and as editor of the Illinois Teacher,” Mr. Hovey contributed his full proportion of influence to secure the founding of this noble university, and by his energy and skill as principal he is doing much to make it fulfill the end of its being. The sketch which has now been given of his life indicates his eminent fitness for the position which he occupies, proving as it does his great strength of purpose, his unwearied diligence, his devotion to the interests of sound learning, and his power to control the young and inspire them with his own enthusiasm.

[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

[Translated from Raumer’s History of Pedagogy,” for this American Journul, of Education.

1. Views on the proper mode of teaching history are exceedingly different, and even contradictory. Such oppositions in other departments of study are usually based upon the discrepancy between the old and new pedagogy; but in the case of history it is not so.

2. First, to define intelligibly the object of our discussion. Shall we teach history, in the widest acceptation of the term—what is called universal history, which treats of all periods and all nations ?

Although history, under this name, is taught in most gympasia, yet neither the instruction in it, nor any one manual of it, corresponds to this idea of it. For what text-book “ includes all nations ?" Are not the Americans, for instance, usually omitted ? as well as most of the African nations, except the Egyptians, Carthaginians, and other nations of northern Africa, who were connected with the Romans? And how large a portion of Asia is altogether neglected !

3. This neglect is for two reasons. One is, that we know either very little or nothing at all of the history of many nations. This is the case respecting those of America. The other is, that we prefer not to know any thing of the history of other nations; or, at least, do not wish the pupils in our schools to be occupied with it. Thus, for example, the Indians and Chinese are scarcely mentioned, though there is no lack of historical authorities on these subjects.

4. But there is also a great distinction between the modes of treating such histories of nations as are included in our histories of the world; inasmuch as in some of them we go into much greater detail than in others. We give less fully the history of the Persians than that of the Greeks ; of the Russians than of the English.

5. Universal history, in like manner, as we teach it, does not include all people of all times and countries, and it does not give the same degree of attention to those nations of whom it does treat. By what standard does it proceed in this? Is it according to dignity, so that the more enlightened pations are made more prominent, and those less so left in the background? This is by no means the only rule; for, if it were, the Hindoos, for instance, would fill an in

[ocr errors]

portant place in it. For how high a position do they occupy in eloquence, poetry, mathematics, &c.

Why do we give so much attention to the Egyptians, for example, when the Hindoos were certainly not their inferiors ?

6. The answer is this. In like manner as individual men take particular interest in the biography of their own ancestors, and of such persons as have exercised much influence upon their own training, employment, or labors, so does each nation take most interest in its own history first, and next in that of those nations which are related to it in language, manners, &c., or which have directly or indirectly exercised a great influence upon it.

7. In the history of what nations should we, as Germans, feel most interest ?

First: in that of ourselves. History of our own country, ancient and modern.

Second : in that of the Jews, since salvation is of them, down to the time of Christ, and including the destruction of Jerusalem.

Third : in that of the Romans; to whose Orbis our nation formerly belonged, and whose influence is perceptible among us even now. Related studies are Latin, the Corpus Juris, history of the Catholic church, &c.

Fourth: in that of the Greeks; whom we recognize as directly or indirectly our instructors.

Fifth : in that of such ancient nations as were in more or less close relations with the Jews, Romans, and Greeks; as the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Egyptians, Phænicians, Carthaginians, Arabs, &c. These

are, however, not so nearly connected with us as are the Jews, Romans, and Greeks, and they are more distantly related to our character and history.

The history of most of these nations is previous to the time of Christ, and belongs to the ancient period.

The Hindoos and the Chinese have not, within the historical period, been either directly related to the Germans, nor in such close connections with any nation in proximity to us as would enable their influence to reach us through them; and thus, with us, they stand in the background.

Since the time of Christ, Europe forms one Christian whole. Still, the Slavic races are further from us than the Romance ones, or the German ones; not to mention still slighter shades of difference, as, for instance, the fact that, among the Romance nations, the Italians are sensibly more nearly related to us than the Spaniards, and they than the Portugnese.

8. These remarks may furnish a standard by which to adjust the


extent of the attention devoted to each nation in text-books and school lessons; which is the point to which I am to speak. The case is entirely different, when a historical investigator devotes his attention to some obscure national history, without any reference to its relations with his own country, and which is very properly omitted from school studies. For such a student the human race is one; and even those races, whose relationship to and connection with our own is hidden in the darkness of times long forgotten, come gradually astonishingly near to us. How unmistakably, for instance, does a comparison of Sanscrit with German point to a primeval unity of the German and Hindoo races.

9. After the object of historical instruction is determined—that is, what is to be taughtthe question arises, How are we to set about instructing; what is to be our method ? In this respect, also, is there the greatest variety of opinions among instructors.

In the first place, there is an opposition similar to that in the case of geography. The beginning may be made, that is, either with general or with particular subjects. In geography, for example, one begins with discussing and describing the whole surface of the earth; while another commences, as old Merian did, with describing single towns.

10. Thus, in history, a beginning may be made either with a sketch, of the most generalized kind, of the history of the world—we bave seen what is to be understood by the history of the world—or with biographies of individual men.

Of these two extremes the first naturally induces the second. “What can boys do," ask some, with general history? They will learn names and dates of years, and nothing more. of the subject is so great, the matters which are of most importance to youth, such as vivid portraits of individuals, great men, instructive occurrences, &c., can not be properly considered. We would, therefore, begin with the biographies of Alexander, Cæsar, Mohammed, &c.; and this method must certainly be more agreeable to the young than the general historical method.

To this the opponents of this method would reply :-“Did these heroes, whom you would describe, live as isolated appearances, in an age otherwise empty? Did not each of them belong to his nation ? Can I comprehend Cæsar without knowing the Romans; or the Romans, without knowing the Greeks and Carthaginians ? Shall I not therefore be obliged, in order to delineate my hero, to describe his nation; and indeed all the nations which were in close connection with it? And does not this, of course, bring us to the method of general bistory !"

I do not subscribe to either of these conflicting views: each of

Where the scope

« PreviousContinue »