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Excerpt from A Plea for the Old, Against the New, in Education: An Address Delivered at the Close of the Annual Examination of the Presbyterian High Schools, at Greenwood, Abbeville District, S. August 2nd, 1850
I am the son of a schoolmaster. I have been one myself. Brought up in the school-room, I was early apprenticed to that honorable profession and initiated in its art and mystery. When I was older and became a teacher on my own responsibility, I made the business of my calling a matter of most careful thought, reading and study. Ever since, it has been to me a subject of the deepest interest. I have continued to read and to think concerning it; have studied theories and modes of teaching, and have observed and compared plans and results. And with opportunities for observation considerably extensive, if not long continued, I think I have been able to learn a good deal about it on the sure grounds of fact and experience.
I make these egotistical remarks, in order to justify the freedom and confidence with which I intend to speak of education. I know well, for I have felt that honorable professional sensitiveness with which teachers justly receive the impertinent and presumptuous lectures on this subject, so often volunteered by those who know nothing about it; and I have learned to feel too much indignant contempt for the conduct of men, who, of one profession, assume to expound the duties of another which they never studied, and in which they have had no experience, to be guilty of the folly and arrogance of imitating it. I trust, then, I shall be permitted to speak of the schoolmasters calling, as myself one of the fraternity; with as much indulgence from these teachers present, as they would accord to one another; while, at the same time, I may claim to speak as a disinterested witness, for I am no longer a teacher.
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