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the pupils, and by his influence contribute to that good order and discipline, the maintenance of which is so essential to the respectability of the institution and the moral and intellectual advancement of the interesting objects of its care.
It is a subject of great satisfaction to the Board, that they have been providentially favored, almost beyond their expectations, in engaging all the assistance required in the department of instruction. Mr. David E. Bartlet, Mr. F. A. P. Barnard, Mr. Samuel R. Brown, alumni of Yale College, the first two, from the American Asylum at Hartford, and Mr. J. Addison Cary, an alumnus of Amherst College, have been employed, with the hope and expectation, that they will devote themselves permanently to the duties of instructors of deaf mutes. The employment of these gentlemen, in addition to the services of Mr. Vaysse, the circumstances of whose connection with the Institution, were given at length in former reports, have so increased the facilities for communicating instruction, that each of the classes is now under the charge of an excellent teacher, and, with the careful supervision of the principal, will enjoy every advantage, that any Institution for the instruction of the deaf and dumb, in this country, is able to afford.
Such is the general condition of the Asylum, and the arrangement of the details of labor, that the same care and attention are bestowed upon the physical wants of the pupils, that they would be likely to receive in the bosom of their own families. This object having been secured, the directors are happy to state, from a plan which has been submitted to them, that the instructors are making very laudable efforts to raise the standard of attainment, and to store the minds of their pupils with knowledge of an useful and practical nature, in addition to that which is embraced in a course of common education,
At no period in the history of our country have efforts been made, corresponding with the present, for the general diffusion of knowledge. To this end the press is subservient; seminaries, for the education of teachers, are established; lectures are delivered; and exertions are made, both by individuals and associations, to advance the cause of popular education. The mode of instructing deaf mutes was introduced into the United States under circumstances the most favorable for success; but, while much has been done, practically, for the benefit of this unfortunate portion of the (Assem. No. 210.]
human fainily, much, very much remains still to be accomplished. With the single exception of the article in the Encyclopedia Americana, no paper on this subject at once copious and valuable, has yet appeared in this country. There has been too little of plan in the methods, hitherto pursued, of teaching language, and, although sufficient time has elapsed, the results of experience are still floating in the air, having never been embodied in a well defined system. Each instructor has been obliged to depend too far upon his own unassisted judgment. No books have been prepared of a suitable character to be used, either in the elementary, or more advanced classes; and no attempt has been made to form a library in order to create a thirst for reading, or to minister to its gratification, when once awakened. Nothing, literally nothing has been done to illustrate truths in physics, chemistry and natural history, or to explain, in any way, the principles of science, as applied to the arts. While improvements are multiplying, almost in a geometrical ratio, in all the departments of knowledge, to aid those possessing the gifts of utterance and of hearing, can no avenues be opened to render these gushing fountains accessible to the deaf and dumb? Shall we be content to pursue the same trodden path, and see our pupils leave us, one after another, unenlightened, except within the pale of simple elementary truths? Our convictions of duty urge us forward. We feel an obligation to spare no pains to supply existing deficiencies, to contribute our share to the common stock of improvement, and to elevate this branch of education to the highest degree of practical usefulness.
One step, and that a very material one, towards promoting the intellectual culture of the deaf and dumb, in accordance with these views, seems to have been made in the plan already alluded to. Not to enter minutely into its details, it will be sufficient to say, that it proposes, without interfering with the ordinary exercises of the school-room, or with the daily mechanical employments of the pupils, very greatly to enlarge the amount of information communicated, and, by presenting it in a systematic form, to secure as effectually as possible, its permanent retention in the mind. By this means, and by encouraging the perusal of books, for which facilities will be afforded, the time, which is now least profitably employed, will be turned to the most valuable account; and, as the knowledge acquired by the pupil will be upon subjects which are of necessity excluded from the school-room, where such things fully occupy the time as are absolutely indispensable in his educa
cation, much that has hitherto been unattainable will be placed within his reach. His happiness will be promoted by the acquisition of that which is useful; his views will be expanded as he contemplates the extent of the intellectual field; while the delight, with which he will hail the development of so much that is new or surprising, can not but stimulate him to more vigorous efforts in the prosecution of his daily task. The study of language possesses, for the young mind, very few attractions. This truth any one will acknowledge, who casts a thought back to his own schoolboy days. It can not be said that the deaf and dumb do not, in general, put forth very commendable and persevering efforts in its pursuit. The evil of ignorance is too immense, and too palpable, not to force them to exertion. Yet, cut off as they have been from childhood, from the knowledge even of what is to be known, the darkness of their intellects renders them almost insensible to one of the highest motives which can influence the human mind to diligence, the desire to be informed. This desire must be proportioned to the estimate made, of how much is unknown. knowledge is a hidden gem. He only will seek it with eagerness, who is acquainted with its nature, and can therefore rightly appreciate its value. There is, then, a mode of stirring up the energies of the deaf ard dumb, and stimulating them to activity, which has never, hitherto, been systematically employed. To vary the monotony of the school room exercises, the perplexing detail of rules and exceptions, of inflections and anomalies, of idiomatic phrases, and the endless caprices of language, no attempt has been made to introduce more entertaining subjects at stated times, by way of illustrating the value of knowledge, and holding out an earnest of the reward, which is in store for the diligent. No substantial proof has been afforded, that language is not merely to be sought for its own sake, but as a master key, by which to unlock treasures of limitless value. Indeed, when we consider how little has been done to satisfy the longings of the vacant mind, to rouse apathy to effort, and to encourage industry in the prosecution of a laborious task; when we consider how little encouragement has been held out to cheer the mute onward in his toilsome undertaking, or even to teach him the value of that which he is immediately acquiring, we cannot but wonder that he should so contentedly persevere; we cannot but pity him, that his deliverance from intellectual thraldom is by a process so tedious, and so disheartening. The plan which it is proposed to introduce into the institution, will, we trust, do much to render this process more pleasing; and the
higher degree of alacrity with which it is anticipated that pupils will engage in the exercises of the school-room, when its effects shall begin to be visible, is not among the smallest inducements which have led to its adoption. That its execution will impose upon the principal and his associates an amount of labor, very essentially greater than has hitherto been required of them, is to be expected. With them, however, such a consideration is of no weight, when placed in the scale with the anticipated advantages. We have reason to believe that their determination has not been hastily formed, but that in view of all the circumstances, they have been led to it by a conviction of duty.
The measures now in prospect, and others not yet matured, which must unquestionably succeed them, are such as to require extensive information, and no ordinary devotion to the task of doing good, in those who carry them into execution. And here the Board cannot but advert to one, among the many errors, which have hitherto prevailed, with respect to the education of the deaf and dumb, from which that unfortunate portion of our fellow beings have suffered, to an extent which can only be appreciated by those, who, like this Board, have been brought into immediate connection with them. This is to suppose, that to convey information to the minds of mutes, and to initiate them into the mysteries of language, is not an undertaking which requires either talents or study for its successful execution, or which merits the undivided attention of men of more than common education. This error, if not entirely confined to our own country, has been, unfortunately, more prevalent here than abroad. To trace its causes, is a matter of no great difficulty. All the knowledge which people in general possess, with respect to the instruction of the deaf and dumb, is derived from public exhibitions, or from the hasty observations of individuals, carelessly made in the course of a brief visit at the institution. The exercises of the school-room are observed to consist of language in its simplest forms, and the observer instantly compares that which is before his eyes with what may be seen in the common schools for speaking children, with which our country abounds. It does not occur to him, that, what he witnesses is only a minute portion of a great whole, to understand which, even his own intellectual powers might find themselves tasked; and that, while the individual exercises before him may resemble those of common schools, there is no more similarity between the two seminaries compared, than between a dancing academy and a school for mathematics. What is it that the instructor of deaf mutes proposes to accomplish? In the first place, to teach a language. And to whom? Not to those who have already the idea of such an artificial structure, and have, therefore, a foundation ready laid, upon which he may build; but to persons, who must first be taught to know what language is. We all know the difficulty of acquiring an unknown tongue. We all know the perplexities which obstruct our progress in the endeavor to acquaint themselves with the Latin or the German. And how few among those, who can read these and other languages with facility, can write or speak either. Yet we have, in the very beginning, an instrument to aid us, which gives us an advantage over the deaf and dumb, like that which the mechanical powers afford above mere animal strength, directly exerted. This instrument is grammar-for grammar is not peculiar to any individual language, but extends itself in all its essential principles, over the whole field of artificial communication. In acquiring the French or the German, we have only to substitute new names and new inflections, for others already known. We construct a machine of new materials, with certain trivial modifications, upon a model before our eyes. But the deaf and dumb have yet to learn the principles, on which the machine was originally constructed. They have not merely to translate, but to invent. Are not talents, are not ingenuity and mental discipline necessary in the man, whose task it is to lead them onward in this process of invention ? Few persons understand how artificial, how intricate, and, in fact, how anomalous are the combinations of words upon their lips every hour of the day. Their knowledge of language has been imperceptibly acquired, and they do not reflect that this language is a structure, which has been growing more complicated since time began. No person, in fact, can be conversant with the deaf and dumb, for any space of time, without becoming convinced, that to teach them even the elements of language, requires a greater practical knowledge of the workings of the human mind, a more philosopical acquaintance with the great medium of communication, and a more thorough intellectual discipline, on the part of the instructor, than is required in any other branch of education.