Introductory 9
for girls. With respect to the latter, it may be added that in some of our
female seminaries too much is attempted. The whole encyclopaedia of
knowledge is embraced in the list of studies, and in the compass of two or
three duodecimos, and the young lady, by the time she reaches her teens, is
in danger of thinking herself grammarian, geographer, astronomer,
chemist, botanist, musician, painter and what not. She
taken from
school just at the age when she begins to be capable of appreciating her
studies, and having got by rote a little smattering of everything, she forgets
it all.
This statement reveals well enough the conception of the proper
education of women which was prevalent during the first half of the
last century and is still not altogether obsolete. This will help
explain why, when the general movement for better education for
young men was inaugurated in the decade from 1830 to 1840, little
or nothing was done looking to establishing colleges for young
In the address already quoted Dr. Hooper sets forth other defects
of the schools of his day. In general only the sons of the rich could
attend the academies, and these seldom had had training that fitted
them for study.8
Parents demanded cheapness and rapidity in the education
of their sons. The least expensive school and the one that got the boy
through in the shortest time was patronized, while the better schools
were starved out. Hooper's words are:
A teacher is chosen for the cheapness of his terms, and the rapidity with
which he can push boys forward for entrance to college. Whoever can get
a boy through the greatest number of books in a given time is the best
teacher. Haste is everything. . . . A teacher who is a man of sense and
conscience, who knows that four years at least are requisite for taking a
boy through the classical course preparatory to entering our common
colleges, and who wants to do justice to his employer, is mortified,
perhaps, to find that his pupils are taken away, under the complaint that he
carries them on too
There is not a sufficient stimulus upon the youth of our State to cultivate the
powers of their minds. Most of those sent to school are the children of men of
considerable property. Those young persons have never felt the pressure of want
and the necessity of exertion. While at home they have been accustomed to pass
their time in ease and amusement, and when they leave that home for school or
college the change must be irksome." Ibid.
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