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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

1. Extract from President Thomas Richeson's Report of the Board of Public Schools, for the year ending July 31., 1875

1. Extract from President Thomas Richeson's Report of the Board of Public Schools, for the year ending July 31., 1875.

* * * The cost of suppressing crime in our community is very nearly equal to the amount expended for education. The wisdom of expending half a million per annum in educating the youth into intelligent and useful citizens will commend itself even to the most sordid, when the fact is perceived that such expenditure saves a large outlay that becomes necessary to check criminal propensity, which grows up in a community where ignorance and indolence prevail. Statistics of jails and penitentiaries prove very clearly that ignorance is the parent of most of the crime which is apprehended and punished. It is ignorance on the one hand of books, and on the other it is ignorance of a trade or useful employment by which one may earn an honest living. The discipline into habits of regularity, obedience, and industry is the chief means by which the school strengthens the character, and prevents crime. The mere knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic is of far less value.

The question how far public education should attempt to fit the future citizen for the arts and trades, has often been considered in educational reports. Perhaps the question receives its practical answer in the introduction of industrial drawing into the schools throughout the country. This branch is by far the most generally applicable of all species of industrial training. All varieties of manufacture demand skill in giving shape and graceful contour to raw page 2 material. The education of the taste, and of the hand and eye, that the universal study of drawing will give, is certain to work in favor of our manufacturing interests.* * *

The support of Common Schools by public taxation is the needed recognition which capital is in duty bound to pay to labor. Ignorance docs not know what it stands most in need of, and cannot be expected to discover and apply the right means for its own amelioration. The poor and ignorant understand very imperfectly the relation of education to power, and they are too closely pursued by immediate necessities to adopt the far-seeing policy of investing their small earnings in the education of their children.

The rising generation are fed and clothed and housed by the industry of their parents at an annual expense of from one hundred to five hundred dollars a year. The cost of education in the Public Schools averages twenty-two dollars a year. This small sum serves to utilize the vast sums expended in the support of youth. The era of childhood is the era of capitalizing physical and mental force for manhood. Where there are no schools, the youth lay up a capital of evil propensities, narrow superstitions, and depraved tastes. Where the schools are good, the youth that attend them convert into capital a fund of scientific knowledge and habits of industry and punctuality, and of obedience to rule. This difference can be measured in dollars and cents, and seen in the value of real-estate investment in a community, as well as also by the higher moral standards usually applied to determine the results of culture in civilization. Statistics widely collected by the National Bureau of Education give the testimony of experience in different parts of the country as to the increase in value which a Common-School education gives to labor. The simple ability to read and write, and make arithmetical calculations, insures an average of twenty-five to fifty per cent, better wages than are given to illiterate laborers. The complete Common-School education adds from fifty to page 3 one hundred per cent, to the wages. Education gives availability and directive power.

It is in its industrial aspect chiefly that our recent experiments in Kindergarten education promise the most satisfactory results. At a tender age, when the child is plastic in his nature, and easily moulded in any direction, he commences a training adapted to give him great skill in the use of his hands and eyes. In various kinds of delicate manipulations—weaving, building, folding, drawing, modelling in clay, etc.—the perception of form is developed, and taste in design and skill in execution are trained in the most powerful manner. The influence of the Kindergarten will be felt on all subsequent education. The early impulse given to mechanical skill and to taste, in regard to form and design, in the Kindergarten, reinforced by a thorough course of instruction in industrial drawing in the primary and grammar schools, is sufficient to work a revolution in the manufactures of the country, and cause our goods to obtain the preference in foreign as well as domestic markets. The success of our Kindergartens has been assured through the devotion and enthusiasm of Miss Susie E. Blow, who has undertaken gratuitously to train our teachers and instruct them in the practical details of the system by example as well as precept.* * *