Francis Wayland (1796-1865), fourth president of Brown University, was born in New York City.
Wayland set out to correct the reliance on textbooks with a new rule, “No text book shall ever be brought into the recitation room, except at the recitation of the Learned Languages.” His own method of teaching involved the analysis of the lessons by the students, who were called on in turn, with frequent review of the work already covered. He favored free discussion in the classroom, stating, “I also caused it to be understood that our subject was one in which they and I were equally interested. Therefore I not only allowed, but encouraged, my pupils to ask questions with reference to any portion of the lesson recited, or of the lecture delivered.”
Francis’ bust before restoration
Francis’ bust during restoration
In 1842 Francis wrote Thoughts on the Present Collegiate System in the United States, urging changes in higher education. Lack of support for his views caused the offer of his resignation as president in 1849, which in turn brought about the consideration of the Corporation and the withdrawal of the resignation. His Report to the Corporation of Brown University on changes in the system of collegiate education, read March 28, 1850, was accepted and laid the foundation for the “new curriculum” with more flexible entrance and degree requirements and the introduction of elective subjects.
Francis’ bust after restoration
Wayland was morally opposed to slavery, but was not an abolitionist. He did not believe that the federal government had the right to eradicate slavery in the states where it existed.
Wayland practiced what he preached. His first “Law of Parents” in the Elements of Moral Science was “The right of the parent is to command, the duty of the child is to obey.” When Wayland found his second son, Heman Lincoln Wayland 1849, to be “more than usually self willed” at the age of fifteen months, he set about correcting the child by starving him until he succumbed to his father’s will over a day later. The elder Wayland described his success in “A Case of Conviction,” signed “A Plain Man,” in The American Baptist Magazine for October 1831.