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petent to solve, of himself, every difficulty which occurs. Whereas, when he proceeds to sentences and books at random, with grammar and dictionary in hand, he does not know, when he encounters a hard passage, whether it is capable of a satisfactory answer, or whether it is a subject of debate among commentators. This doubt discourages perseverance; whereas, by the other method, he knows he can succeed, and the responsibility is his own, if he fails. Greater difficulties, by far, are presented to the learner, in attempting to apply a principle so much more general, than his experience, than would occur in classifying the facts, only as fast as he learns them.
If this principle of teaching languages is understood, its application will be easy for instructers. A perfect developement of the principle cannot be here given. It is merely suggested for consideration; and if it is found correct, philosophical, and consonant to the laws of mind; the detail will more properly follow. It may be remarked, however, on leaving the topic, that there are several methods of communicating the elements or obvious facts of a language, without even the sight of a grammar. That will come to aid in classifying the facts and knowledge of the language; but those facts and that knowledge must be attained, before they can be classified. The instructer may construe literally a few of the easiest passages or simplest sentences, which can be selected, and the learner be required to go over the same sentences by himself, till he has learned to construe them without assistance. Or. perhaps a better method would be to select some easy and interesting story, perfectly within the comprehension of the pupil, so that the interest of the piece may aid in the recollection of the words. When a very few short stories of this kind have been learned in this manner, the child may be put to construe similar pieces alone, to the instructer, who will serve as a dictionary for the words which have not occurred before, or are not remembered. The interest of the piece confines the attention, and the meaning of the words is acquired with astonishing rapidity. The necessity of making sense of the story, will oblige the pupil directly to observe, that as different terminations, or certain particles are used, different shades of meaning are expressed. And he will form his experience in the observation of facts into rules, as fast as he has such experience.
Another method would be to put an easy book, with a perfectly literal translation, into the hand of the learner, and require him to learn a portion to recite without the translation. This gives a knowledge of the words, the first thing to be attained in the acquirement of a language. The particles, from their frequent occurrence, will be soon learned. And as they are supposed to be known to the pupil, the meaning of them may be left out of the
translation. In the same manner, common words may be dropped from the translation, care being taken to always give the meaning of a new word, or a new sense of the same word, till it can be lairly supposed to be learned. In this manner the inflections will be better understood than in any other method. For the learner sees, at once, the different terininations, and the different relations of the words expressed by them.
During this stage with the pupil, the grammar and dictionary may be at hand; but they are to be consulted as a means of learning the lesson, and not to constitute the lesson itself. After an intimation from the instructer, that the grammar contains information, which may be useful; and perhaps after a reference to it, by way of example to the pupil, let him consult it just as often as he pleases, and no oftener. If he does not find any aid from it in learning his lesson; or feel the want of something of the kind, it will be of but little use, to drive him to it. But instead of wearing out some half dozen grammars, before he is advanced to any other book, and absolutely loathing the sight of one, it will be the very dearest book on the table. He will find all the inflections and rules laid down in the book so consonant with his own experience in the language, that he will be very much disposed to adopt that arrangement for the classification of his own knowledge.
I take geography as another example, to illustrate what is meant by inductive instruction. It is selected, not because it affords any peculiar advantage in the application of this method of communicating knowledge; but because it offers a convenient opportunity to remark upon the leading principles, upon which books on the subject have been written; and to acknowledge its increasing interest and importance as an elementary study. Children are very early capable of describing the places, mountains, and rivers, which pass under their inspection. And they commonly do it with an enthusiasm, which shows, how lively an interest they take in the subject, and how deep an impression the peculiarities of new places make upon them. When they have learned, by actual perception, a few of the features of the face of the earth; at a period a little later, they are capable of feeling a similar interest in forming a conception of places, mountains, rivers, &c. from representation and description. Then commences the study of geography.
This is a branch of learning, which has been more neglected than its importance deserves; whether we consider the value of the knowledge obtained, or the adaptation of the study, to the early developement of the mind. As commerce and letters multiply the mutual interests, relations, and dependencies of distant places, some knowledge of those places becomes alınost indispensable to all professions and classes of society. Till within a
few years, there has been but little order or arrangement in the books, which could be studied as text books. Facts and descriptions were selected, with no very great care or attention to their importance, and with less if possible to their authenticity. These materials were thrown together upon some plan adopted from the caprice of the author, but with not the least reference to the learner. Consequently, the whole subject has been almost totally neglected. So much depends upon the manner, in which knowledge is presented to the understanding of the learner. But within these few years, improvements have been made, in the elementary books upon this subject, which have brought it into notice. It is now very generally, though I am far from believing very successfully, taught in our schools.
The manner of teaching it by question and answer, which is the manner adopted by the books most approved at present, is objectionable; although it enables the young learner to seem to have acquired great knowledge of the subject. The questions direct the learner to the most important facts, no doubt, but that is of little consequence to him, so long as he is unable, or not prepared to comprehend them. He connects the question and its answer by some artificial association, and will repeat a passage, containing important information, with verbal accuracy. To the hearers, who have already acquired a knowledge of the subject, and who attach to the words, a definite and correct meaning, the child seems to possess an astonishing fund of knowledge. But it is apprehended, that many a child, who thus delights and astonishes his parents, and gains his book and instructer great renown, would make as sorry a figure on a more careful examination, as the child mentioned by Miss Hamilton. After answering to all his questions, and giving an accurate account of the statistics of Turkey, on being asked where Turkey was, (a question not in the book, replied, in the yard with the poults.'
The improvements in our school books upon this subject, have consisted in greater attention and accuracy in the collection of authentic and important facts, and in a more consistent arrangement of them. But by far the most important improvement is the introduction of maps. The principle of using maps, deserves the most unqualified approbation. For when the object and meaning of a map are thoroughly understood by the pupil, it aids him to confine his attention, and form a conception of the relative magnitude of continents, mountains, and rivers, and of the relative situation of places, better than the most labored descriptions, without such aid. But the principle of arrangement, upon which all the books upon this subject have been written, I beg leave to object to decidedly and strongiy. The pupil is presented in the outset, with a map
of the whole world, reduced to the size of a hat crown. nection with this, he is directed to read a description of the largest rivers, mountains, and seas; and also to commit to memory some account of the character and manners of the principal nations. Perhaps he will now be required to learn the amount of exports and imports of the most commercial nations to the accuracy of a farthing.
Some, not content with presenting the whole earth to the first and single glance of the young learner, and, as if determined to push the absurdity of the plan to the utmost, have given the whole solar system to the child, for his first lesson in geography. This is called setting up landmarks, and getting a general knowledge of the subject; but so far from that, in my view, it is getting no knowledge at all. It is only a confusion of words, without any definite meaning attached to them.
The subject is begun precisely at the wrong end. If it is addressed to the understanding of the young learner, this arrangement seems to presume that he will take a deeper interest in, and better comprehend the general features of the world, embracing its largest mountains and rivers, and the characters of nations of whose existence he has never before heard, than of the roads, hills, and rivers, of his own neighborhood, and the boundaries of his own town, county, or state. Besides, he can get no adequate idea of the magnitude of the largest mountains and rivers in the world, except by comparing them with the mountains and rivers which he has seen, and of which he has formed some definite idea.
In forming a conception of a distant mountain or river, which we have never seen, we proceed precisely as we do in forming a conception of any other magnitude. We fix upon something of the same kind, which is known, as a unit of measure; and then compare and discover the relation of what is known, with what is unknown. So the child could form some idea of a mountain twice as high as the hill before his eyes; or he could form a tolerable conception of a river, three times as long and as broad, as the brook which runs before his father's door, or the river, he may, perhaps have seen in a neighboring town; but tell him, at once, the Himmaleh mountains in Asia, are 25,669 feet high; and the river Amazon, in South America, extends 3500 miles in length, and empties into the ocean on the equator, from a mouth of 150 miles wide, and I am much mistaken, if he forms the least conception of what he is told.
The correct plan for an elementary geography, would begin nearer home, with a description, and if practicable, with a map of the town, in which the young learner lives. Or if that is too particular for general use, the instructer may supply the description; and the map begin with liis own county, or state, in which he will
of course be most interested. From this he may proceed to his whole country or kingdom, and thence to more general divisions of the earth. The map will of course be reduced in its scale, and the descriptions grow less and less minute, as the places are farther removed; or from any cause, are less interesting. If I have remarked with freedom on the state of books upon this subject, it has been without reference to persons, and with the single motive of inducing those authors to whom we are already indebted for many improvements, to examine their plans, and see if one cannot be adopted, more consonant to the principles of the youthful mind.
(From Jullien's Questions on Education.]
[In our 7th and 9th numbers, the first series of questions—that which embraces primary education,—was given in detail, proceed to the second series, consisting of questions on secondary education, as conducted in preparatory schools, in academies, and in minor colleges, whether managed by individuals or by the community.
Under this head, we select, for the present, the subdivision entitled Intellectual Education. We prefer retaining the form of questions as given in the original; because, though no answer is expected in our case, the ideas present themselves with more force in their interrogatory aspect.]
101. At what age nearly do children pass from the elementary, to the secondary schools?- What may be remarked on this transition from one stage to another?
102. Are the children subjected to a preliminary examination on the objects and results of their primary studies, before entering the secondary schools?-In this case, what are the attaininents demanded?
103. How many classes are ordinarily embraced in a secondary school?-What is the order of their succession?
104. What are the objects of instruction generally embraced in the sphere of secondary education?
105. To what extent, in these schools, is carried the study of the ancient languages-of the modern-of drawing-of geography-of history.- of physics of the different branches of natural history?