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Remarks on Greek. Grammars. Boston, 1826: pp. 27.

This pamphlet is a reprint of a review which appeared in Nos. 5. and 6. of this Journal; and it is gratifying to find that the leading subject of that article excites such an interest as to call for its publication in a separate form.

The avowed principle of the Journal of Education being that no favorite theories shall be obtruded to the exclusion of fair discussion, the individual who writes the following strictures, feels at liberty to express fully his dissent from some of the opinions advanced in the Remarks, and more especially as they inculcate notions which seem likely to retard rather than accelerate the progress of improvement in education,

Before calling in question however a single statement in the Remarks, it is due to the author of that article to say, that the learning and the research which it displays are creditable not only to himself but to his country.

The writer shows that he possesses not merely the taste, but—what at our day and in this country are a much rarer and higher commendation--the industry and the zeal of a genuine scholar. High intellectual attainments, however, are not always a guarranty for correct views of the human mind or of the great subject of education; and they never can supply the place of skill and ingenuity in the humble art of teaching. A profound scholar, indeed, is not unfrequently the worst qualitied person for aiding the details of education. He sits in his closet, contemplating with a high enthusiasm the works of stupendous intellects, in their rich marginal garniture of annotation and commentary, till the intensity of his admiration becomes an absorbing passion which disqualifies him, in a degree, for the office of deciding a purely practical question on the merits of the comparatively mechanical process of teaching

The professed scholar's devotion to the classics and to the minuter shades of thought and expression which constitute the niceties of grammar, and his attachment to the scholastic habits long associated with his favorite pursuits, are very powerful barriers to his attaining correct or liberal views on the subject of instruction. He has entailed on his mind a dry and exclusive style of thought, an abstraction, a stillness and a languor, which revolt from the bustle of activity and change; and which lead him to regard every attempt at reform as a troublesome innovation. Even the dull scholastic aspect of his own education, has borrowed a reflected charm from the venerated features of antiquity, which is more congenial to his mental habits, than any trait of the busy and intruding face of modern improvement.

The attempt to introduce the inductive method of instruction in the languages, seems accordingly to be looked on with no friendly

eye by the author of the article under review. "Induction,' says ne that writer, “is a term which is constantly in the mouths of the sute perficial, by whom its real signification is as ill understood as its

history is by those who suppose the discovery of it to be the pecu

liar boast of modern times.' This sweeping assertion requires a de little examination. The popular cant about induction,' is a thing

happily so prevalent that it may be traced in essays, pamphlets, and school-books, in all parts of the country. But the work which has most successfully maintained the utility of inductive instruction is the United States Literary Gazette; a publication which has done more to reform the character of instruction, within a few years, than had previously been effected through any other channel. Some writers in that work have, it is true, used the terms induction and analysis somewhat unguardedly. They have not appended a definition to these terms in every instance in which they have used them, setting forth that the words were to be taken, not always in a strictly scientific sense, but in a popular acceptation ; not in the sense of reducing to elements, (for then we should confine it to chemistry,) but in the acknowledged and authorised usage of tracing to principles. But, must writers who are contributing to a popular work, always feel bound to remind their readers that they are using words in their popular sense?-Farther:

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If, indeed, those who would have us adopt this method in the acquisition of languages, as we understand their use of the term, would also require us to follow it, in all our studies, the argument would at least be consistent Now it may be asked, if we are not to avail ourselves of those general principles, or rules, in languages, which have been

deduced from actual observation, but must begin anew by induction,' E why should we not proceed by the same method in all the sciences ?

Why should we not, for example, in astronomy throw aside, as so much useless lumber, those sublime general truths, the discovery of which seems to have been reserved during so many ages by the author of nature for the mighty minds of Kepler and Newton; as, the discovery and elucidation of numberless other general results, flowing from these, has also been reserved for a few, and very few, of their illustrious successors ? Why should we not, too, in the study of other parts of nature, as botany, mineralogy, chemistry, and, in short, every branch of knowledge, refuse to avail ourselves of the like general truths, wbich were first discerned and investigated by the great men, who bave immortalised themselves as the founders of these sciences ? No: in the sciences, generally, it would be thought preposterous to keep a learner in ignorance of the various general truths, which have been already discovered, and to direct him to proceed by his own VOL. 1.


strength to investigate them for himself by the process of induction What ! shall the whole natural world be laid before the pupil, in all its apparent confusion and irregularity, and he then be directed to class and arrange its parts, and with endless labor to investigate, if he should have the sagacity to discern them, those innumerable gene• ral results, which have been ascertained with so much labor, and which, in fact, constitute science ?

This careless sort of reasoning comes very unexpectedly from a person of our author's intellectual power and discipline.—The question is not by any means whether we are to avail ourselves of general principles or rules in language,' but how are we to avail ourselves of them. Must a pupil submissively take the mere assertion of his book or his teacher for his knowledge of a fact or a principle-or may he be permitted to see and know for himself? Does the teacher acquit himself best who allows his pupil to learn by rote the rule 'a verb agrees with its nominative case in number and person, and then shows him the application of the rule in particular instances,-or he who guides the mind of his pupil first to the fact mentioned in the rule, as it presents itself in one example, then in another, and so on till he has actually convinced the understanding of the boy, first, that there is such a fact as that on which the rule is based, and then that this fact is of so frequent occurrence as to become susceptible of being expressed in the form of a rule?

Which of these teachers does his duty? Which of them is forming useful habits in the young mind? With which would a parent of common intelligence prefer placing his son, were the choice of instructers offered?

The teacher's office is not to make his pupil · begin anew by induction,' but to guide him right, to train him to the exercise of his own powers, to enable him to achieve his own progress. Inductive teaching, (if we know any thing of it after many years' practice,) is not beginning anew by an independent course of effort: it is making the wisest use—the most practical one, at least—of the labors of our predecessors, and especially of the great lights which great minds have shed on the path along which they have travelled.

If inductive teaching implies that the teacher guides the pupil, and that the latter is not left to begin anew, then the whole of the declamatory argument about throwing away the aid offered by the discoveries of Newton, &c. falls to the ground.

• Is, then, the present methods of teaching the sciences in general are proper, we can perceive no solid reason why the same course, to a certain extent, should not be pursued in the acquisition of foroign languages.'

The reviewer here returns to a more moderate tone; and in the phrase 'to a certain extent,' comes to ground on which the most sanguine advocate of analytic instruction would be willing to meet him. Synthesis is, to a certain extent, as valuable an instrument in teaching as analysis. The complaint is not that the synthetic method is used, but that it is used indiscriminately and invariably, and in cases where the analytic would be more serviceable.

The quotation from Sir William Jones, is, perhaps, when attentively considered, one of the most powerful arguments for that method of teaching which the reviewer condemns.

• When the student,' says he, (Sir William Jones, speaking of the Persian language,) •can read the characters with fluency, and has learned the true pronunciation of them from the mouth of a native, let him peruse the grammar with attention, and commit to memory the regular inflections of the nouns and the verbs; he need not burden bis mind with those that deviate from the common form, as they will be insensibly learned in a short course of reading.'

The question may we think be confidently put to any unbiassed mind-If the irregular inflections (the exceptions) occur so frequently that they are insensibly learned, and the task of formal committing to memory may be dispensed with, will not the regular inflections, from their much greater number and their frequency of occurrence, be much more likely to be insensibly learned; and does not the argument for not burdening the memory acquire in fact, infinitely greater force?

We are quite aware that the answer to this question involves the soundness of an argument ex cathedra, which might well stagger the boldest inquirer. But let things and not names decide the point. How would we settle it, if we should for a moment lay aside the awe of literary authority, and bring the argument to the impartial test of its own weight only? When Sir William Jones communicates a fact regarding the etymology or the syntax of the Persian language, we would receive it with the profoundest deference. But when he lays down a rule in teaching, involving a principle which is founded on a well known fact in the habits of the human mind, his statements may and ought to be canvassed by the humblest teacher who wishes to be guided by truth rather than by authority.

As for the quotation from the venerable Lily, quaint and curious though it be, it fails of answering the reviewers purpose; for it necessarily falls along with the direction quoted from the great oriental scholar mentioned above.

The paragraph which follows is, we think, another instance of random assertion in the place of sound argument.

• We bave extended these remarks further, perbaps, than the subject before us demanded, because we have observed opinions promulgated in some publications of the present day, which we believe to be of erroneous tendency in regard to certain fundamental principles of education, as well as the practical mode of applying them. There can be no doubt, that the knowledge of particulars, to speak in scholastic language, is the most exact and thorough ; but, it is equally certain, that as this sort of knowledge in all our necessary studies is beyond the grasp of inan, we must content ourselves with that approximation to it, which consists in the knowledge of generals.'

We are happy to find so able an advocate of the old method, go so far in favor of the new, as to admit that the knowledge of particulars is the most exact and thorough.' This sentiment deserves to be written in indelible characters over the door of every school-room, and to be suspended over the desk of every student. 'THE KNOWLEDGE OF PARTICULARS IS THE MOST EXACT AND THOROUGH! Now, with this conclusion before his eyes, what capable teacher, what true scholar, would be content with a flimsy knowledge of generals; when the exact and thorough understanding of particulars is within his reach, and needs but an energetic and persevering effort to grasp it. The late President Dwight has, in one of his letters on New-England, very shrewdly divided mankind into two classes, students of generals, and students of particulars. Into the former class he throws the indolent, the acquiescing, the superficial, the ill-informed; and into the latter the enterprising, the accurate, and the profound. The division wears an air of humor, but it betrays an observant and penetrating mind. - We will leave the illustration, however, to speak for itself.

To return to the Remarks – it is equally certain,' says the reviewer,' that this sort of knowledge in all our necessary studies is beyond the grasp of man.' Indeed! How is it certain? In how many, and in what parts of our necessary studies is it certain? Who knows the force or the extent of the grasp of man? Has it yet been fully tried, after the invigorating training of a rational and practical and inductive course of discipline in all its efforts?

The point to be proved in the present instance, is, that in the acquisition of languages, the desirable species of knowledge cannot be attained. How far a mere assertion in general terms can affect the particular case before us, must depend on a predisposition to content ourselves with the authority of the individual who makes the assertion. The zealous advocate of induction is equally confident in his assertion that the exact and thorough species of knowledge is attainable in this department of education; and he not only reasons plausibly and practically, but he tells you that the induc

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