« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Printed or manuscript accounts of the following institutions have been received, and shall be inserted in our subsequent numbers.
Maine Wesleyan Seminary. Erasmus Hall, L. I. Geneva College, N. Y. Chesterfield Academy, N. H. Hartwick Seminary, N. Y. Westfield Academy, Mass. Dickinson College, Pa. Noyes' School, N. H. Derby Academy, Mass. Hopkins' School, Mass. Haverhill Academy, N. H. Harvard University. Yale College. Gardiner Lyceum, Me. Public Schools of New York, Agricultural School, of Dummer Academy, Me. Baltimore College. Cumberland College, Tenn. Female Seminary, Wethersfield, Conn. We would acknowledge the receipt of several valuable communications, for which we shall endeavor to make room as early as possible: among these are the following:
Our acknowledgements are due to an anonymous friend who has forwarded us a packet of very interesting pamphlets, which we have no doubt will be very serviceable to our purposes.
The Report and the Act contained in our present number have excluded Mr. N. Webster's letter to the public, and reviews of Alger's Pronouncing Bible and of Jamieson's Rhetoric. The reriew of Greek Grammars sball appear in our next number.
(Concluded from p. 200.)
Arrangement of an Infant School. THE SCHOOL ROOM. In an establishment where circumstance and the personal influence of the teacher, as well as mutual example, fill so important a place among the means of attaining the purpose which is in view, the choice of a suitable room is of very principal moment.
On this subject, some general principles may be laid down, which will distinguish those things which are absolutely necessary to the real efficiency of the system, from those which are only desirable.
In the choice of a room, then, it will have sufficiently appeared, that cheerfulness, light, freedom of air and of dimension, must always be consulted. The walls should, if possible, be spacious, and the roof or ceiling lofty.
The size of the room must be regulated by the number of the children who are to be educated in it. There should be space for the whole of the school, with the exception of the monitors, to sit around the room on seats affixed to the walls, that the area may be perfectly free.
The average of one foot to a child is sufficient.
As one of the principal objects in these establishments is to gain and fix the attention of the school on one spot, and on one person, the form of the room should, if possible, be such as to cause the infants the least personal trouble and effort in doing so.
It is desirable, farther, that the voice of the teacher should be equally heard, without effort on his part, and that his person should be seen with equal distinctness, at all the most distant points
in the room.
If he be obliged to raise his voice, in order to be heard by those who are at a greater distance than others, his tone will almost necessarily seem to approach to that of anger; and the good feelings of his little flock will in consequence be disturbed; whilst, on the other hand, distance will encourage carelessness in those whose attention is not yet sufficiently secured.
It will appear, from these remarks, that one decided aim in the choice and the fitting up of an infants' school-room must be to place the little pupils, as far as may be possible, at an equal distance from the point from which the teacher may propose generally to address them.
NUMBER OF CHILDREN. In the establishment of an infants' school, one of the first things which must occupy our attention is the number of children which may with effect be educated together. Now in the discussion of this point, as that of the subjects of infant instruction, possibility is, I would remark, by no means a sufficient guide to our decision. It may be possible, for instance, under the most favorable circumstances, and for a certain time, to catch the attention, and to instruct together as many as three hundred infants; but the influence over so many cannot be lasting; and when disorder is once effectually introduced, it will take some considerable time to remove it. The system may indeed be destroyed by either extreme. Where moral influence, proceeding almost directly from the best and the kindest feelings of the heart, is the only source of authority, and where mutual sympathy is one powerful instrument in the hand of the superintendent, it is manifest that the number may be either so great that both will be lost—the voice of the teacher be merged in the discordant shout of the infant multitude, or the company itself divided into its little parties, and thus the influence of mutual sympathy cease to be universal; or, on the other hand, it may be so small, that the desire to excel will subside into personality, or the influence of evil temper and of disorder become universal, before the superintendent is able to subdue it by the better feelings which may remain.
Where circumstances are favorable, three schools, of one hundred children each, are far to be preferred to one of three hundred. The number should not be less than from fifty to eighty, and it should on no occasion exceed one hundred and fifty. In an assembly so circumscribed, if the form of the room be suitable, the superintendent may, from his rostrum, watch the eye of any individual. He may address himself to any one, or he may avail himself of the ear of all, without elevation of voice, without anger, and with the best effect.
AGE OF THE CHILDREN.-Children are admitted into the infants' schools from the age of two years, to that at which they are received
into the parochial schools; which is generally six or seven. The presence of the older children, if the establishment be well managed, is productive of very beneficial consequences. The mutual influence of the infants on each other may, through these, be rendered more extensively effectual, and as they will have attained to a greater measure of knowledge than the others, and will have imbibed more correct habits of order and attention, the best monitors may generally be selected from amongst them.
SEPARATION OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS.--After the assembling of the school, the first division that takes place must be that of the boys and the girls, whom it will be well to arrange at the opposite sides of the rooms. It may, indeed, seem useless to insist on this division among children so young as those at an infants' school; por am I prepared to say that there is an absolute and present necessity for it. The principle, however, is accordant with the system. In such an establishment, regard must be paid to the appearance and the tendency of things, as well as to their present nature; and the arrangement which I have thus recommended will, amongst others, encourage a delicacy of mind and propriety of manners, which the children will probably never totally forget.
CLASSES.—The division of the school into classes must be a work of consideration and care, and will require much time for its completion.
It will be more than probable, that among a hundred children of different ages under seven years, a few will be found who have already, by the diligence of their parents, acquired a knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, and of some of the more simple words. Now, as soon as possible, the teacher must accurately acquaint himself with the state of knowledge already attained by each of his pupils; and without any distinct remark to this purpose, he must place those who have acquirements, of howsoever small an extent, in a higher place in the school than those who have none. By thus slowly proceeding in his work, in a few days the little assembly will have almost imperceptibly assumed a more correct arrangement, and he will have thus laid the foundation of all his future proceedings. From this point, he may, without hesitation, proceed to a general division of the whole school into classes.
It has been already remarked, that if it be difficult for the teacher to support a consistent influence over the whole of his school, it would be impossible that a child should ever hope to do so over any considerable number of his fellow-pupils. In that part, then, of the system, where instruction proceeds immediately from the monitors to their fellow-pupils, order can alone be preserved by placing the fewest possible number under the care of each little teacher. A monitor is supposed to be able to regulate, and to communicate in
struction to five of his fellow-pupils, and this is, therefore, the number of each class. For the general purposes, however, of the school, it is thought better to have two monitors superintending the same little party of children; and on this account two subordinate classes are regarded as one, and the monitor of the school is then called the second monitor. In the classes themselves, it is not desirable to place the children according to their several acquirements, as the instruction there pursued is seldom individual; and the personal emulation, which is excited by the taking of places, is not known in this system of education. In order to mark the division of the classes, the seats may be divided by small partitions, into compartments of ten feet each, which affords, on the average, sufficient room for as many children.
MONITORS.—In an infants' school, a child, who has attained knowledge howsoever limited, is supposed to be thus far in a ca pacity to teach another child who has none. On this principle the several monitors are chosen. All that is required in the way of qualification in the monitor of a class is, that he should be well acquainted with that which it is his office to communicate to his little pupils. It will be evident, that in this manner all the school may be reduced to an order of successive instruction, and that the business of the teacher, will be, in this department, most effectually performed by his personal attention, chiefly to the highest classes. Through these, as monitors, he communicates the same knowledge to the second order of his pupils, and thus by succession to every class in the school. His personal attention to the subordinate classes will be of a more general character. He will call, and fix their attention, as he passes round the room, to the various subjects of instruction; and support, where necessary, the influence of the little teachers over those intrusted to their care. As the monitors are, in their order, themselves moreover the subjects of instruction, and under such circumstances must for the time leave their classes, the most intelligent child in each class is chosen, to fill, at these times, the place of the little instructer, and obtains the name of the sub-monitor.
When the lesson is to be given to the whole school at once from the rostrum, the monitors are chosen from among the boys without any regard to their place in their several classes. The more simple combinations of number, for instance, or the more easy tables, are recited aloud from that place by some of the least advanced in knowledge. The teacher is here constantly changed, and all feel that in their turn they may assume the place of instructer to all the others.
Besides these monitors, two or more of the most intelligent and active children may be selected, to act each alternately as a walk