New York: Samuel Wood & Sons, 1816. First edition. Disbound with remnants of the wrapper to the spine. Complete in 34 pages including title page, with some leaves repeated: , 3-18, 13-20, 19-28. Measuring 100 x 160mm. Irregularly trimmed, with some headers shaved close and some loss to the text of the bottom lines recto and verso of the final leaf. Somewhat foxed and toned. Contemporary ownership signature of Henry Mott to rear wrap. In all, a sound and pleasing copy of a fragile piece seeking to reform the nation's educational system. Scarce institutionally and in trade, OCLC reports 12 copies in libraries, with this the only one on the market.
Born into an established family of Quakers, James Mott grew up in the Long Island Friends community. He was educated at Nine Partners, a Quaker boarding school, where he later became an assistant teacher and then teacher. There, he met Lucretia Coffin, another teacher, whom he soon married. Lucretia and James Mott were pioneering reformers, particularly with respect to the abolition of chattel slavery and the pursuit of women's rights. Both Lucretia and James served as leaders among suffrage and anti-slavery societies for the rest of their life, with Lucretia best remembered for her role at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.
Observations on the Education of Children is a fore-runner to the Motts' later activism, and it bears the imprint of Quaker educational ideals according to which education is a two-way process. Observations on the Education of Children outlines a pedagogy of participation. Mott stresses that adults should "obtain over children an ascendancy which imprints respect, and prepares obedience" but cautions against "scolding, threats, or a harsh tone of voice" which "do not procure it." Mott outlines his optimistic belief in the inherent curiosity and inquisitiveness of children. He suggests that dutiful cultivation of this interestedness and careful orientation of its direction leads not only better people but better communities and better societies: "our chief object should be, the introduction of sentiments that are friendly to virtue and happiness." A thoughtful and careful piece of educational theory. (Item #3877)