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Instructions in all kinds of Gymnastic Exercises, as taught and prac
tised in the Gymnastic Institutions of Germany: designed as well for colleges, schools, and other places of education, as for private
With eleven illustrative Plates. By a Military Officer. London. 1823.
pp. 99. 8vo.
A complete education,' is a phrase often used without regard to the proper extent of its signification. If the various textures and organs of the body, and the general faculties of the mind of any fortunate individual, have been educated in early life by suitable exercises, and if, in consequence of this rare cultivation, he has attained that enviable state in which all his faculties, material and mental, are at once well-formed, sound, vigorous and adroit; and if his moral nature has been equally well nurtured and disciplined; --then, and then only, we see a man whose education may justly be called complete. Such an individual is prepared to enter on any pursuit which duty or necessity may prescribe, and with every assurance of success which human wisdom can provide or secure.
It should be the aim of every school in which education is completed, to place every pupil in this situation, by the time he leaves his instructers; and every preceding seminary should be conducive to the same end, so far as the different circumstances and destination of individuals may require or permit.
To preserve the advantages of this education, one task only remains for the pupil. In pursuing any particular profession or course of business in life, some parts of his system must be morc frequently called into action than others; and these parts will retain, if not overworked, all the power and mobility of which they are susceptible; while those portions of the body which are comparatively neglected, will lose more or less of these properties.
The task, then, for the pupil is this: in the intervals of his stated occupation, during which some members are regularly and fully exercised, the quiescent parts should be as often brought into full action as may be sufficient to keep them flexible and healthful:-in other words, to retain what education had given them. There are two reasons for the observance of this rule. First, those organs
and faculties on which we depend for the daily performance of our business, whether manual or intellectual, cannot be perfectly fitted for the best efforts they are capable of making, unless the other parts of the frame with which they sympathise, and by which they are affected, are in a state of vigor and activity. Second, if the individual should change his labors, those organs which have been least exerted may now be called on to perform those duties which were previously executed by other agents.
The inferior instruments and agents should always be ready and able to obey the dictates of the presiding mind, as well as to maintain its authority and pre-eminence.
The whole of education consists in knowing when, how and what to teach, and in carrying these points into effect. The physical education of the infant may begin, and should begin, from his birth; but his mind should not be too early brought under the formalities and restraints of direct discipline and instruction. By using his locomotive powers and his senses, he may, however, very soon begin to acquire a knowledge of the material world, and thus improve the instruments with which he is to advance in science and practical information, so long as his active powers continue.
But all this is very different from setting a child on his stool in solitude and silence, when three or four years old, to get his book lesson Better would it be to burn his stool and book, than to do this. Cheerfulness and gayety are the birthright of innocence; and who on earth has a right to sever, what has been united in heaven? The first ten years of existence can in no way be better spent, than in laying a deep and broad foundation for good health and spirits, for the rest of life.
This secured, there will always be time enough left to educate the mind, which is now to be aided and sustained through its whole career, by a sound foundation of muscles, brain and nerves. It is, however, by no means necessary that, with healthy children, ten entire years should be devoted to the body. The three inseparable branches of instruction should go on in equal and harmonious progression. Let the body and the mind interchange their labors, and they mutually support and advance each other; neither being pushed beyond slight and temporary fatigue;- for a degree of fatigue which a good night's sleep will not remove, is proof that the effort has been carried too far.
No one can study with devotion and profit beyond a certain portion of the twenty-four hours,-let the residue be given to the gymnasium. This is precisely the resource which is wanted in numberless institutions, to occupy and fill up those vacant and dangerous hours, which are robbing so many of our young men of their physical and moral soundness, and retarding their progress in every laudable pursuit.
For the truth of this statement we appeal to the history and present state of every college in our country.--By the remedy proposed we get not only health and morals,-no slight rewards,but the education also of the mechanism and faculties of the body; and this is at all times doing much for the empire of mind. But it may be contended that most of us get sufficient exercise for health, in the way of our ordinary pursuits and employments. This, generally, is not true, while we are at school or afterward. Besides, if this sort of exercise were, in some instances, sufficient in quantity, it is never all we want in quality.
An artisan or laborer, for instance, may work enough in one direction, or even to excess, as it respects some of his muscular organs, while other parts of his frame, and his mind, are declining from inaction. The active being is never in a powerful and active state, never fitted, as a whole, for any thing near the highest attainable preparation for action and enjoyment.
Let these occupations do what they can, and the resources of art do the rest. The modes of conveying knowledge to the human mind, will doubtless be improved in the course of our intellectual advancement. It is to be hoped and believed, that we shall see less of dejection, and silence, and books, at an early age, and more of society and interest, more of oral instruction, more of illustration by instruments, and representations addressed to the senses. Docility, cheerful and prompt attention, and respectful deportment, should secure to every pupil the smiles and approbation of his parents, instructers, and friends. The labor of study should, as much as possible, be sweetened and lightened by hope and animation; and sullenness, disgust, and despair, thus be banished from the sphere of school and the teacher.
In Pere Gerard's school in Friburg, where healthful and pleasant exercise is made a part of the business of school, so anxious are the boys to improve, that they are often known to rise in the night to study; and so lively and interesting to them has he rendered the exercises of the school, that very young children are fond of attending. The ex-queen of Sweden lately visiting this school, observed a very young child in one of the classes. Why do you come here my child?' said she, to the tiny scholar.
" To amuse myself,' was the answer. Still more surprised, she asked, “ How is it that school amuses you?' 'Oh madam,' said he, we amuse ourselves here all the day long! (Griscom's Year in Europe.)
With regard to what is to be taught, it is of course that which the scholar will need most when he comes to act for himself. The rule is so obvious, simple, and important, that it admits of one short remark only; it has often been nearly reversed, and but very rarely so much attended to as it always ought to be.
In acquiring what is thus useful and appropriate, the invigoration and expansion of the mind, and the habit of attention, the essential preparatives for any subsequent improvement, may as well be established, as in learning what is irrelative and comparatively useless.
The preceding thoughts were suggested by the perusal of the work of which we have given the title.— The author commences his preface with the following sensible remarks.
• The education of youth is naturally divided into two parts-mental and physical. In England, the attention of those who have the superintendence of education, bas been entirely confined to the former : the latter has been left to ance and the natural necessity for exertion wbich characterises the human body in the early stages of life. The importance of exercise is universally allowed, but no attempts bave bitherto been made to reduce it to any system, or subject it to the guidance of experience and judgement. The modes of exercise, such as games, plays, &c., have been left to the invention of children, whose supreme command over their own sports has never been denied or molested. The consequence is, that the hours of exercise are turned to very small account as regards their original destination. The only advantage obtained by time spent in recreation, at present, is the relaxation of the mind. The body is left to take care of itself. It often happens, that plays and games which serve tbe one purpose, are injurious to the other; for a little reflection will convince any one that the sports practised in schools, and by children in general, are by no means well adapted to form or invigorate the muscular powers. In many instances they are, on the contrary, calculated to injure the frame, and superinduce bad habits and awkward motions. The object of this work is to turn the attention of teachers to this most important branch of physical education, and to introduce a system of bodily exercise, which, while it forms considerable amusement, and total relaxation of the mental faculties, brings into a full and healthy action, all the muscles of the bodyHealth, vigor, elasticity, robustness and beauty of frame, are the rewards which this system holds out to those wbo will persevere in the practice of its precepts.
• The attempts which have been made of late in Germany to revive the ancient exercises of the Greeks, have been attended with complete success. No seminary whatever, in that country, is now considered perfect, which does not admit a course of gymnastic exercises into its system of education.'
The contents of the work are so blended with engraved illustrations that it is impossible for us to gratify our readers with extracts. We must restrict ourselves to a bare mention of the heads of the chapters. These are as follows: walking, running, leaping, gymnastic exercises for augmenting the muscular powers of the body and limbs, vaulting, balancing, climbing, wrestling. Each of these topics is treated in detail; and suitable directions are given for the proper method of performing the various exercises which it includes.—The work before us would, we think, be of great service to schools and colleges in our country, and would contribute much to the health and the happiness of the rising generation, we hope that it will fall into the hands of some of our enterprising booksellers, and obtain a place among useful re-publications.
FRENCH ACADEMY OF EDUCATION.
The following are the chief rules of the French society of education. (See intelligence, in our first number.]
Objects of the Society. Under the conviction, that the progress of knowledge, and the perfection of the arts and sciences, are the most suitable means of meliorating the condition of man, the members of the society combine for the purpose of seeking out the best methods of education aud instruction.
ARTICLE 1. The society shall occupy itself with whatever relates to educa. tion, physical and gymnastic, moral and intellectual, scientific and productive (industrielle): it will labor to perfect the methods of instruction.
ART. 2. It will encourage the publication of works adapted to the aid and direction of masters in teaching, and in rendering study easy to their pupils.
ART. 3. It shall give its suffrage to new methods which shall appear to be useful.
ART. 4. It shall propose premiums, and ordain medals to the authors of the best works on education. Art. 5. It will encourage gymnastic exercises.
Organisation of the Society. Art. 6. The society shall be composed of members honorary, and members of the council; each member of the society shall pay an annual subscription, the minimum of which is 20 francs.
Art. 7. Every six months the society shall meet in general assembly to hear the reports of the council, on the employment of the funds, and the result of its labors.
ART. 9. The society shall have in France and in other countries, corresponde ing associates, chosen from among men distinguished in the sciences, arts, or literature.
Organisation of the Council. Art. 11. The council shall be composed of fifty-six members, distributed into eight committees.
1. The committee of physical education.-2. The committee of moral edųcation.-3. The committee of languages.-4. The committee of historical science.-5. The committee of law and political economy.-6. The committee of mathematical science.—7. The committee of physical science.-8. The committee of liberal arts.
ART. 12. No person can be a member of the council, who has not perfected a method, published some work, or communicated memoirs, relative to the objects of the society.
ART. 17. The different committees are especially charged, each in what concerns it in giving their advice on the merit of methods, on plans of education and instruction, and on memoirs or works submitted to the council.
ART. 18. The council will give to teachers and persons who apply to it, information relative to methods, and the manner of their application.
ART. 19. The council shall meet in ordinary session twice a month.
Art. 25: There shall be annually printed a statement of the funds, the man ner in which they have been employed, a list of the members, and the amount of each subscription. Art. 26. The society shall publish a collection of its memoirs.
Griscom's Monitorial Instruction.