The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of Honolulu featured a story dated June 17, 1876. It focuses on a letter from Hawaii's Inspector General of Schools Mr. Hitchcock on his journey to Trenton, New Jersey:
NORMAL SCHOOLS IN AMERICA
The following extract from a letter from Mr. Hitchcock, the Inspector General of Schools, now on a visit to the United States, will be read with great interest:
“On the 6th of this month, I went to Trenton, N.J. in company with Mr. Slack, a Trenton man, to inspect the State normal school established in that city. Connected with the school is a ‘model school,’ for the young normals’ to try their hand at. But this is not allowed, except in the primary classes. The class rooms of both buildings, the normal, and model schools, are partitioned off with glass sashes, which are raised or lowered in the same manner as window sash, this permitting the whole floor to be thrown into one room if desirable. When these sashes are down, no sound is distinguishable from the various rooms.
“The pupils were engaged in written examinations, at the same time of my visit, these examinations being ordered by the State Superintendent, for the purpose of exhibition at the Centennial. I passed around the various rooms with the principal of the model school, overlooking the work of the pupils, and was favorably impressed with the neat appearance of their papers; drawings in colored crayons were very beautifully executed on the blackboards surrounding the rooms. Great attention was paid to this art.
“Passing over to the normal school situated in the same enclosure, I was shewn into the recitation rooms of different classes. Of these there are three, numbering in all nearly two hundred students, of which at least four-fifths are ladies. There are two courses, one of three, and the other of two years. The curriculum of study is almost identical with the one which I proposed for Lahainaluna last year.
“I was surprised at the youthful appearance of the students. The graduating class could not have averaged over eighteen years; whist the entering class were mere boys and girls. I attended a recitation of each class, and was much struck with the intellectual development manifested. The lower classes represented raw recruits, struggling to master the mysteries of arithmetic, the middle class had left arithmetic behind, and with barks slightly battered in coming in collision with arithmetical icebergs, steered on to meet the unknown dangers of higher mathematics, and physical science. The graduating class were at their moorings, taking in their last stores, rating their chronometers, and receiving their last sailing orders previous to acting as convoys for numerous fleets of small craft awaiting their guidance.
“After spending two very agreeable hours in this state institution, I went with Mr. Slack to the state house, and examined various collections of specimens, principally geological, which the pupils of the state schools had made for exhibition at the Centennial. These will make a very handsome show, and were collected at the State Department of Education, previous to being shipped for the Centennial grounds.
“On the 13th inst., in company with Rev. C. Forbes, formerly missionary at the Islands, I visited the Philadelphia Northern-Home for friendless children, and sister institution the Home for soldiers and sailors orphans. Here again were written examinations going on, by order of the Superintendent of Instruction. Both institutions numbered about 400 pupils of both sexes, and are controlled by a board of ladies.
Everything about the establishments was perfectly neat, and the pupils appeared to be well cared for. Still, I saw a great many old faces on young shoulders, telling the tale of early trouble. The gem of these establishments is the ‘Kindergarten School,’ where the little ones were taught. In a large room wherein flowers were made to bloom at all seasons, and a canary made music at all hours of the day, was a low form in the shape of a parallelogram. Around this form, seating in comfortable little rocking chairs were some twenty little midgets, the oldest of whom was not more than six. Here they were amusing themselves in drawing on slates, making variegated paper mats, modeling fruits and animals into clay, unconsciously learning and studying, whilst in reality playing. I was assured that the little things, some not more than three years old, generally learned to read by the time they mastered the alphabet. Variously colored blocks with the letters upon them were placed in a heap together, and the little ones would form the word signifying the name of any object in the room after seeing their teacher print the same on the black board. And their clay models were very good in many instances; they were but a step in advance of childhood’s mud pies. At the request of the matron I talked a little to the children, and wound up with a sentence of two in Hawaiian; where at the young ones laughed heartily as did also their teachers. This Kindergarten School is to be exhibited at the Centennial in the Pennsylvania Building.”