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Early New England. Run a long. Run. This is a Donald born professor of humanities at Boston University and New England Renaissance program. We continue the story of the
conflicts in New England in the mid 19th century on previous programs with disgust to the times the influence of the Industrial Revolution the slavery issue building in the background. Today we're concerned with the conflict in education during the New England Renaissance to draw the picture we'd like to take you back again back again to the 30s and 40s. Rod Wright a student of the period to set the scene here of the sound of public education in the 1830. It may seem odd that we associate a whipping stick with public education here in the early 19th century in New England. Such an instrument applied to appropriate places as a disciplinary gesture is supposed somehow to make the knowledge offered stay in the mind of the student. The rod is not
spared nor is the child. The effectiveness of schoolmasters work too often depends upon the muscle in his arm not the grey matter in his head. Let's look into this business of elementary schools in the 1830s a little more deeply and let's go where we can get the best possible information available. Let's go to an average little red school house source of early formal learning in this period of New England history. Let's evaluate the meaning of the sound to the student and to society. For now Mr. Farnum grabs you'll be kind of luck tomorrow to repeat your multiplication tables without stumbling. I intended for her and I standing in the back of a classroom number I had a typical classroom in the dark on the wing when school had all the matter is just reprimanded the younger who had not thoroughly learned his lesson.
The class was being dismissed. The Master is now left through a door in the front of the room. The students are leaving too. All except one young man who was standing a few feet from us now looking at his rather curiously why did you come closer young man. We'd like to have a few words with you. That's the idea. Now then what's your name. Find him sir. Alan Frank. Fine if you live near here about six miles from here there. My father owns a farm. I should leave so I have chores to do at home. We'll only take a few minutes of your time and walk to school do you. Yes it both ways. And how old are you. You look about 15 maybe 16. I'm fourteen say I'm a bit lad for my age I guess. Well let's move over here by the stove. It's a bit cold in this side of the room. Always it is sometimes even here by the stove it's called two. We burn green wood in it. We used to have a fireplace and that was better. Wait a minute sir and I'll put some more wood in the stall that'll warm us up a little.
While Alan Frank is doing that let's have a look at the school room in one room of course. A single room about 20 feet long by twenty five feet wide. It's about seven feet high I'd say and there are five very small windows which obviously don't open up for the whole room is in a very on a type of condition with dust and dirt all over the master's desk is right over there in the middle of the room. And on it there are the stands goose quills. LUDDEN plummets with a ruling of paper and a few books and what you might call I guess the proper instruments for chastisement. The fire burning fierce now it's there. You mean fiercely don't you son fiercely. I think that's right. We were talking about the room and what it looks like there are back with benches on three sides of the room. Where do you set Allan Frank minds right over there. It's a high one that's for the big boys. The low ones are for the small boys but the running backs on those benches.
Yes that's so we'll have to pay attention. You have to sit up straight right over here there's something that interests me. That's a lot of buckets. You all drink out of the same bucket. Use that same ladle. Why why yes or anything wrong with that sir. Tell me when you get a cold. Do the other students get colds too. Why why you answer now that you mention it seems like we always get sick at the same time. Tell me about your studies here Allan Frank. What do you learn. Well sir why there's the catechism we learn that by heid we learn to read and write. We memorize everything and then we won't forget it. The pastor says it seems to me that the educational methods used here are ingeniously devised to produce the least possible reward for the greatest expenditure of effort.
So there was nothing. Nothing. Alan Frank. Have you any idea of what your schoolmaster is paid. I'm I'm not supposed to know sir but I heard my father say the Master was paid much much more than he was worth. He said the schoolmaster shouldn't get paid as much as people who work for a living. How much does the master get. About $6 a month I think there. Do you think he's worth it Allan Frank. I really should go home sir there are chores to be done and my mom has it I know. Just before you go though son I have one last question I'd like to ask you what that's there. Well I've got a letter here from a friend of mine about the school and others like it and I'd like to know what you think about it. Let's see yes here it is. Listen the main for all of our schools is that they do nothing to demean late intellectual curiosity to excite untrained imagination or to call forth and guide the process of thought everything possible is done by repetition repetition of forms or phrases
often without attention to meaning. The teacher's ideal is that as charges should commit to memory all that is told them and all that they read. What do you think of that letter Alan Frank I don't know said some of them words a terribly big and anyhow so I'll be out of school for good pretty soon then I can work in the fam all the time I guess you can at that. Well thank you very much first thing. You're welcome sad and sad. Yes when you leave would you please close off the draft and install the masters always saying we waste too much wood and if there's not anybody here that would be a waste of wood. I'll take care of it Allan Frank thanks again. You're welcome sir. Quite obviously if a screw master is less clear in the 1830s on a farm laborer or household maid if the screw master is not given ordinary human consideration by the people of the term that the schoolmaster is not out to Maui because he might ask for more money or if the screw amount was not supposed to be employed
in the same school more than two successive tunes. For them the quality of schoolmasters secured is apt to be rather poor. This fact plus the lack of inspiration and teaching methods and material is apt not to do the job for society that it should be doing. The time is ripe for a revolution in the educational system as well as in other institutions. The new line of idealism has started to fill the minds of many who are intoxicated by the new ideas all around them think they must be immediately effective in society. Many reformers including a number of labor leaders feel that it is the hour to do something about the school system. Williams a well-known scholar has this to say about the period the Labor leaders were enthusiastic about education in tax supported schools. They saw here the one hope of the workingmen in improving their lot and education soon took place among the reforms they demanded. They urged the necessity of an equal
universal republican system of education. This was in 1830 for the next year they demanded the establishment of free libraries for the use and benefit of mechanics and workingmen. At that time there were more than a million child illiterates in the United States even to making 40 not more than half of the children in New England received free education in common schools in the middle states only one seventh and in the west one six had these opportunities. The size of the electorate increased more rapidly than the population illiteracy have also increased by as much as 50 percent. There are other factors too which make the cry for educational reform more potent distribution of wealth is becoming more and more unequal. The rich are becoming richer the poor are becoming poorer. To all this confusion is added more confusion. Factories with poor living conditions for the workers are springing up all over the country. The country is enjoying an industrial growth which
staggers the imagination and with the increased wealth comes corruption gambling and favors speculation are flourishing. But we know 1830 in 1837 the amount of paper money in circulation has doubled. Then comes the grave economic crisis which ends an era of prosperity and like joyous living for the wealthy. Values have faded rapidly. Farms in North Carolina have declined to 2 percent of their previous values. Almost all of the property in the state of Alabama has changed hands. All but three New York City banks have suspended money payments. The panic has reached into New England clawing at the emotions of the rich and poor alike. Into this atmosphere the reformers are bringing with them I'm developing a radical view current in Europe from Germany or become disciples of goodwill from England or from the roots of transcendental ism in the philosophy of Carlyle's development of the Empire. Individual is a basic tenet of the
transcendental as a movement. Now this means development of the entire individual as applied to children in school as well as to the adult in his association with God. Do Indiana has become Robert Owen. The Scots reformer whose opinions spread into New England. I am come to this country he said. I am come to this country to introduce an entire new order of society to change it from the ignorant selfish system to an enlightened social system which will gradually unite all interests into one and remove all cause for a contest between individuals. The Pestalozzi and system of education has been introduced into the United States by William McClure a friend of Owen's absolute equality among men equal education for men and women. These possibilities are being discussed in many other new series of education some of them practical. Some of them impractical Oppy getting to be introduced. It is a transcendental list of famous Bronson Orkut who tries something new. He was educated in a schoolhouse similar to the one we
visited earlier in his program and he has done a lot of thinking about education and the role it should play in the development of the whole child. It is the pot of allies instructed to tempt forth from the minds of his pupils. The facts of their inmost consciousness and make them apprehend the gifts and faculties of their own being education when rightly understood will be found to lie in the art of asking apt and fit questions and thus leading the mind by its own light to the perception of truth. An interesting verse name is Bronson Orkut before me Yankee pedler in Virginia where he taught school in Connecticut before going to Boston and Connecticut he quickly became known and somewhat notorious for his new ideas about education. He made unpopular innovations in his Connecticut schools organist play the honor system the abolition of physical chastisement. He has developed his own standard of teaching based on his own philosophy of what purpose
to teach with reference to eternity and to teach as an agent of the great instructor and who teaches the former of character and the promoter of the collective happiness of man that is my task. Mr. Orcutt has already discovered in Connecticut before coming to Boston that his rules regarding public education could put good taxpaying citizens in their most vulnerable spot. The pocketbook brought a well-kept education isn't education without a bright cheerful school room and adequate riber and most important an unusual one happy child in the school room. I and all of the innovation the very idea of trying to have the children enjoyed and doubt it is that reckoning novelty this idea that we're coming. We've been a professor at Yale college as an unkind word for orchids ideas. By no advantage in pursuing a different course of instruction from what has hitherto been practiced that
has done the test of experience it is surely an outrage to alter it. The world talks about improvement and instruction at about a thousand never tested notions. They are good for nothing I would not give a straw for. But Amos Bronson Orcutt secure in his conviction and with the help of sympathetic friends is going ahead with his ideas in Boston his placers approach around conversations with children. He was as images drawn from a common fund of childhood experience. You could get the pupils to express their thoughts. Many of these conversations with children are about the life of Christ. Orcutt feels along with many other transcendental lists that Christianity is valid not because it is recorded in history and attested to by miracles but because a current sides with the intuitive religion of nature natural intuition he believes is freshest and least unspoiled in children
rests you see the children by their thoughts can testify to the truths of Christianity. Orchids teaching has a strong moral hint to it but it isn't unfortunately the same mild suggestion Bronston is accustomed to. He leads them into discussions of subjects rarely before ever permitted in a school room. He frequently reads to the students and then asks them what came into their mind while he was reading. Now that selection from the Gospels dealt with the birth of Christ what came into your mind while I was reading. I thought or I was. Wrong. Iraq and country don't bulk up on several of the other terms and death lists are being influenced by the so
called Presto Let's see method developed by a Swiss education reformer who believed that education ought to be Maori and religious. What Gammick us and completely not mechanical but designed to penetrate and regulate the Empire would be pre natural and individual based upon intuition rather than upon memory and the lower reason gradual and progressive and linked like a chain of social and domestic and closely related to life. Now in September 1834 famous Bronson Orcutt has opened his temple screwed in the upper floor of a Masonic Temple in Boston. This school is destined to be his most famous. Miss Elizabeth Peabody has managed to enroll 30 children and has agreed to serve as orchids assistant. But there's trouble coming. The
same kind of trouble Orkut ran into in Connecticut. One third of the conversations with children are nonsense. One third blasphemous and the best I've seen. Children should not be where they will be my best. These conversations on the Gospels by all could have gone too far. Imagine talking to children about birth and death at. Birth and that is Temple School for financial failure. Most of the pupils pulled out of the school by their parents. These crazy new ideas all could go to Concord to live near his good friend Robert world OMAC and in the public schools of Massachusetts public education continues as it has before the pupils memorize their work. A little consideration given to the development of the entire individual. What reform of the school system so greatly desired by Amos Bronson all cut
is on the minds of other great men of this time. They as individuals are approaching the problem in their own way. For example there's Mr James G Carter a farmer's son and graduate of Harvard. The two principal causes operating again the free schools are bad teachers and bad textbooks. I do not think that the incompetency it teaches is due to the negligence or indifference of the public so much as to the competition of business and professional life which tend to prevent young men from becoming professional teachers. Mr. Carter hold that men teachers may be divided into three classes those who think teaching is easier and possibly a little better paying than common labor. Those who are acquiring or have acquired a good education and who take up teaching as a temporary employment either to earn money for pressing necessities or to give themselves time to choose deliberately a regular profession. Those who conscious of their weakness despair of any distinction are even the means of making a
living other than by teaching. Although Amos Bronson all Kat's conversations have been something less than successful and the voices of Mr Carter and others are still in the background there is entering now Horace Mann an educational leader of great repute and ability. Let's take a few moments now to look at Mr. Mann his background and his career. This is Horace Mann father of the common schools whose efforts were to have a tremendous effect upon the educational system of Massachusetts and of the country as a whole. Horace Mann was born in Franklin Massachusetts in 1796 a great humanitarian. As a child he had to work hard for all he gained. He believed in devoting himself to a cause with all the energy and intensity add to Wafa a humanitarian motive was the key to all of man's labors and achievements. In addition to being an educator he was a successful lawyer and a realist while serving in the Massachusetts legislature as president of the Senate.
Horace Mann becomes more and more interested in educational reform. During a speech in which he argues for suitable pay for teachers and popular interest and support in the school Horace Mann puts into words his feelings about the function of the schoolmaster's. Gentleman gentleman I would like to go on record as believing that that the business of the Government to you is more than a prop. It is to a great extent the actual predestination of what the rising generation shall be the instructor the few other great fortune tellers of the nation. If we are to have intelligence that. Man's increasing interest in education comes during the New England Renaissance he knows and is aware of the activities of many of the transcendentalists including Amos Bronson our cat and his temple school as Mr. Mann and others watch this period see scores of schemes advanced for the reform of all classes of society. As one writer put it there are a
thousand creeds and battle cries of a thousand warring social schemes a thousand new moralities and twenty thousand thousand dreams. For good or bad the minds of men are on the march. Horace Mann with his own twenty thousand thousand dreams finds himself caught up in this tremendous surge of reform both as a citizen and as a legislator. I took a liberal position towards the problems of the day. My religious convictions are with the Unitarians soon after my entrance into political life I associated myself with the Whigs. I am interested in Temperance the anti-slavery movement and popular education. I could not be classed I believe as a transcendental ist. Yet there are many elements in the transcendental this philosophy which appeal to me as a member of the legislature. I favor religious liberty freedom of speech and the improvement of the condition of the unfortunates. I think to align myself with the
constructive forces which make for fundamental steady progress. Horace Mann has been dogged by misfortune in his personal life. His wife whom he passionately loved passed away two years after their wedding. Helping his brother in a financial crisis has ruined man's financial position his lungs are weak from a bout with tuberculosis. He has a high nervous temperament a sensitive organization power a keen sense ability of the importance of time. On the educational scene the American Lyceum the American Institute of instruction and other groups have been working for the improvement of schools for state control and supervision of the school system and educational event is noted by a young lady. I am happy to say that education for women has been receiving considerable attention and now in 1836 I've been informed that a charter has been issued for Mount Holyoke a female seminary. The school has been open to girls at much less expense than in most prevailing seminaries. Ninety students have been
admitted. There was also another great event in education here in 1837. Intellectual interest has reached its climax as Ralph Waldo Emerson gives the 5 beta kappa address at Harvard. The American Scholar this addresses called by some the educational Declaration of Independence the Massachusetts legislature led by sympathetic and forward looking men decides to name a superintendent of public schools of the Commonwealth. A board of education is also set up and Horace Mann is offered the post of secretary of that board. A reporter goes to him with questions about his plan. Mr Man may I have a statement from you in regard to your appointment. I've been asking myself these questions since the news of my appointment reached me. Ought I to think of filling this high and responsible office. Can I adequately perform its duties. Whoever shall undertake this task must encounter privation labor and infinite annoyance from an infinite number of dreamers and thoughtful not too fast or I wish to take all the two of you
to the city bring forth a germ of greatness and of happiness which nature earth got abroad and expand them into maturity and enrich them with fruit to be able to teach to even a few of the generations how mind is a god over matter how when a ranging object leaves us or in arranging objects of desire. I thought the border nation of the less valuable to the more is the great secret of individual happiness are the whole of life depends upon the scale which we form of its relative values. Could he do this. What diffusion and what intensity. What perpetuity of blessings he would confer. How would his beneficial influence on mankind widen and deepen and the defended forever I think I have most of it sir. Thank you thank you very much away from you as surely welcome. I hope I didn't talk too rapidly. Mr. Mann served in his office for 12 years. In May 1843 he's married to Ms Mary Peabody the sister of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody
who helped Amos Bronson all get with his temple school bus there is a link between the idealist and the practical. Horace Mann each of whom is leaving his mark on education here in the 1830s and 40s the approach is different in each case. But the objective and the result. The thing Horace Mann sums up his personal point of view as to his function and objectives. The ashamed to die until you have achieved some victory for humanity. We are ashamed to die until you have achieved some victory for humanity. In the case of Amos Bronson workup the transcendental has been neighbors and friends this was the watchword. I was re-examine the entire social system and IT services the place of nature in the scheme of things the political and economic aspects of life. And yes even God Himself and
how he reveals his presence and who it is but another slice a small slice of. The knowing the Renaissance. This has been the New England Renaissance written and produced at Boston University for the National Association of educational broadcasters in cooperation with the fund for adult education. The New England Renaissance was produced and directed by George W. Sloan Jr. assisted by William Bagot and Mel grey. Our script was written by Sidney a diamond Dr. Richard C.
Carpenter was research and content consultant Professor Donald Bourne and Rod Wright Meyer were narrators our cast included John Codman Jr. Frank Farnham Larry Henson Milt Hanson Stan lep Audrey Chanel and Len Zola. The music for this program was taken from Charles Ives composition three places in New England. Be sure to listen again next week to the New England rhino songs program number four. Like a little heaven the story of the Brook Farm experiment in West Roxbury and the fruit lands experiment in the town of Harvard Massachusetts. This is the end of E.B.. Take network.
New England renaissance
Be ashamed to die
Producing Organization
WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The activities of Amos Bronson Alcott and Horace Mann in the education field. Features re-creation of Alcott's Temple School in Boston based on authentic "conversations."
Series Description
A dramatic re-creation of the New England Renaissance produced at Boston University.
Broadcast Date
New England--History--1775-1865
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Advisor: Carpenter, Richard, 1916-
Director: Sloan, George, W., Jr.
Producer: Boston University
Producing Organization: WBUR (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Speaker: Bourne, Donald
Speaker: Rightmire, Rod
Subject: Alcott, Amos Bronson, 1799-1888
Subject: Mann, Horace, 1796-1859
Writer: Diamond, Sidney, A.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-2-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:46
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Chicago: “New England renaissance; Be ashamed to die,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “New England renaissance; Be ashamed to die.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: New England renaissance; Be ashamed to die. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from