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more readily into the spirit and foundation of the rules of grammar, and their minds will be better prepared to grapple with the difficulties of the study. Time is lost by putting children into studies for which their minds are not ripe.
“Grammar is not the stepping-stone, but the finishing instrument." As grammar was made after language, so ought it to be taught after language.
When scholars come to study the natural sciences, these are made, as much as possible, matters of experiment and observation. No one supposes a pupil will make any proficiency in the study of chemistry, or of any branch of natural philosophy, without witnessing experiments, or making them for themselves. Is there not good reason, then, for pursuing the same course, as far as possible, with less advanced children. It is true, as has been remarked, that Primary and Intermediate Schools need apparatus as much as a High School, but, of course, of a different character.
Mr. Josiah Holbrook, (25 Howard Street, New York,) has prepared apparatus specially designed to illustrate the subjects taught in all grades of public schools. It combines economy and durability. The Common School sets embraces
For Arithmetic-An abacus, or pumeral frame, with movable balls, or counters, to be used in teaching Numeration, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions; also, blocks to give examples in square and solid measures, and to illustrate the extraction of the Square and Cube Roots.
For Geography-A Globe, a Hemisphere Globe, and a Tellurian.
For Geometry-Solids, representing various geometrical figures, and illustrating the square of the hypothenuse.
The price of the articles named, in the Atlantic States, is from twenty to twentyfive dollars.
The sereral faculties of the human mind are not simultaneously developed, and in educating an individual we ought to follow the order of nature, and adapt the instruction to the age and mental stature of the pupil. If we reverse this order, and atteinpt to cultivate faculties which are not sufficiently matured, while we neglect to cultivate those which are, we do the child an irreparable injury. Memory, imitation, imagination, powers of observation, and the faculty of forming mental habits, exist in early life, while the judgment and the reasoning powers are of slower growth. It is well known that the memory may be stored at an early age with valuable rules and precepts which in future life may become the inaterials of reflection, and the guiding principles of action; that it may be furnished with heroic sentiments and poetic illustrations, with “thoughts which breathe and words that burn,” and which, long after, will spring up spontaneously from the depths of the mind, at the proper moment, to embellish and to enforce the truths of the future man.
This period of life, hen acquisitions of this kind are most readily made, is not that in which the judgment and reasoning powers can be most properly cultivated. They require a more advanced age, when the mind has become more inatured by natural growth, and better furnished with the material of thought.
An important part of elementary mental instruction is that of imparting expertness in the performance of certain processes, such as spelling, reading, penmanship, drawing, composition, expertness in the first rules of arithmetic. I shall by and by consider some of these branches under another aspect. At present, I refer only to that promptness and dexterity in going through certain processes, which can be imparted only by laborious drilling on the part of the Teacher, and acquired only by attention and frequent practice on the part of the pupil. As merely one illustration of what I mean, I will mention skill in adding long columns of figures with rapidity and correctness. It is only in early life, while the mind is in a pliable condition, that these mental facilities can most readily and most perfectly be acquired. The practice in each case must be so long continued, and the process so often repeated, that it becomes a mental habit, and is at length performed with ac. curacy and rapidity, almost without thought. I think this drilling is the most irk some part of a Teacher's duty; it is apt to be distasteful to the pupil, but it must be faithfully and resolutely performed. It is an important principle which should be kept in view by the Teacher, that although the practice of an art is at first difficult, and requires at each step an effort of mind, yet, every repetition renders it easier, and at length we come to exercise it not only without effort, but as a pleasurable gratification of a habitual act. Perseverance, therefore, in this cause, will ultimately receive a grateful reward.
We should carefully avoid having too many studies in our schools. Non multa, sed multum is a maxim of sound sense. Do a few things well, not many things poorly. It should never be forgotten that correct spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, and facility in expressing ones-self in good plain English, are indispensable. They are the foundation of all future acquisitions ; in fact, without them, there can be no superstructure. They are worth any quantity of heads full of mere smatterings of ologies and osophies.
“I want to conjecture a map to study antimony, and to learn bigotry,” said a girl to her master. “My dear little girl," was the reply, "you may project a map after having studied geography some time longer; astronomy you may attend to when you can understand it; and I would advise you never to learn bigotry in all your life. Perhaps you mean botany."
It is a great evil, I have said, to introduce many studies into a school. It works evil in another way, and that is, children are put into studies for which their minds are not mature enough. It is an important fact that the mind, at a certain time, may be totally unable to comprehend a subject, because it is not sufficiently developed to understand it. The evident course to be followed is, to wait, wait until the mind has grown, and then what was formerly so difficult becomes perhaps quite easy.
An incident is related in the Autobiography of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, which illustrates this point.
Dr. Franklin states that he was sent by his father to a school for writing and arithmetic, “ kept by a then famous man, a Mr. George Brownwell. Uniler him," says the Doctor, “I learned to write a good hand pretty soon; but I failed entirely in arithmetic."
It is almost incredible that a mind like Franklin's should be incapable, even at the age of nine years, of understanding the rudiments of arithmetic, which, he tolls us, he mastered a few years after, by himself, with ease. His mind, perhaps, was not sufficiently grown for him to take hold of the subject. Another explanation of this fact is to be found also in the character of the text-books used in Franklin's day, and in the method, or, rather, want of any method, of instruction. Every one, at all interested in the cause of education, knows the vast improvement that has been made within a brief period, both in the books used in schools, and in the methods of teaching from them. This improvement has extended to every branch of a school education. It is difficult for us to form an idea how different was the state of things in Franklin's time. I imagine I see the boy-endowed by his Creator with faculties which were to astonish the world by their strength, acuteness, and grasp—that boy, who afterwards made his name immortal by his discoveries in science, and who did more than any man, except Washington, to carry his countrymen successfully through the war of the Revolution-I imagine I see him in a small and, probably, ill-ventilated school-room in School Street, in the town of Boston, resting his distracted head upon his hand, and endeavoring in vain to catch a glimpse of the meaning of the mysterious rules in Cocker's Arithmetic. The various studies that now make school life pleasant, were entirely out of his reach. At ten years of age he was taken from school to help his father in the business of tallow-chandler and soap-boiler, having learned from that “famous man,” Master Brownwell, nothing except a good hand-a statement which every one will admit to be true, who looks at his name signed in clear, round, characters, to the Declaration of Independence. One cannot help thinking with what delight Franklin
would, even at that early age, have pored over the most elementary treatise on Natural Philosophy; but it was to be his fate, by his brilliant discoveries, to make some of the most important additions to such a work, instead of merely reading accounts of the achievements of others.
It should be carefully kept in mind that the object is not to pour information into the mind, but to train and discipline it. Hence we see the absurdity of learn. ing a lesson merely by rote, and of asking, in hearing a recitation, simply the questions which may be in the book. Montaigne says: “To know by heart, is not to know.” Self-development should be encouraged to the fullest extent. The pupil should be told as little as possible, and induced to discover as much as possible. Encourage him to conquer difficulties himself. Every victory so achieved adds to the strength of his mind, and what he acquires in this way he makes permanently his own. The rule that the Teacher should follow, is not to do any thing for the scholar, which the scholar can do for himself; to remove from the road only those obstacles which are insurmountable, and to put the pupil on the right track, when he has got on the wrong one. The true object in teaching is, to enable the scholar to do without a Teacher, as in assisting a child to walk, it is that he may walk alone. It is true that certain information must be imparted by the Teacher, and the best informed man, other things being equal, will be ihe best Teacher. But in imparting information, the same caution should be used as in feeding a child. Give him intellectual food only when he craves it, then only can he digest it. Don't load his stomach when he is not hungry. There is intellectual dyspepsia in some schools.
It is implied in what I have said, that the real object of education is to teach how to think. If this is not done, the memory may be crammed with knowledge, so called, (even this is like the rude and undigested mass with which Virgil's harpies gorged themselves,) but what wisdom is there, what development of mind ? Emerson says: “When a great thinker is let loose upon the world, look out.” How true it is that very few people do think. Many follow in the beaten track, without asking whether there is not a better road. How many are carried away by mere words, names, devices, without once inquiring-What does all this really mean? Let us not be surprised then that the power of thinking is not more frequently found among the young. Few grown persons possess it. But it is a source of great gratification to the Teacher, when he finds in his class any who do think, who turn the matter over in their minds, who inquire why this is, or is not, so ; in short who bring mind to bear upon the subject of their lessons. He wishes that that leaven would leaven the whole lump of juvenility before him. Too many learn their lessons by going over them as a mere matter of memory, not as an exercise of the mind. This will be the case as long as Teachers insist upon, and are satisfied with, merely the answers in the book, hearing the lesson almost as a mechanical exercise. The remedy for the evil is to cross-examine the scholars closely, and in a variety of ways, in order to ascertain whether they have clear and definite ideas on the subject which they have been studying. In this manner you probe their knowledge. Take all the pains in the world to see that they understand what they recite, perhaps, very glibly:
As the foundation of all memory, of all thinking, of progress in learning, of success in any pursuit, attention is indispensable. It is the possession, or the want of this faculty, that makes the great difference among men. It is the power of directing and holding the mind closely and fixedly upon any subject, until it is contemplated in all its aspects and relations, and thereby fully understood. You remember Newton said if there was a difference between himself and other men, it resulted from his attention to the subject of this thoughts. This ability to fasten and hold the attention, cannot be estimated too highly. It must not be disregarded even in the youngest pupil. Whether one, or many, are to be instructed, undivided attention must be given. Care and judgment are of course highly necessary in presenting just such thoughts and lessons as are adapted to their capacity. One thing at a time should claim attention, until it is fully mastered. Let that one thing be within the reach of the child's mind, and then impressed upon it until the idea is fully grasped.
A pleasant method of giving a child a lesson in attention may be found in Ogden's Science of Education.” He says : “A little expedient to which I have resorted, on some occasions, may be snggestive of means that may be adopted for correcting these evils, and of fixing the attention. Holding up my watch to the school, I have said : ‘How many of these little boys and girls can look at it for one minute at a time?' The idea, perhaps, is a novel one, and their little voices and hands will respond, anxious for the experiment. Some will say, boastingly, 'I can look at it an hour!''Two hours !' responds another little captain, who is anxious to make a display of his prowess. At this juncture, I ask, how many would be willing to make the experiment of one mivute continuous looking ? There is a shower of hands and a shout of voices raised to the highest pitch. Well, let us try; all ready; now!' And their forms straighten up, and all eyes are bent with intense earnestness upon the watch. It grows very quiet, and every one listens and looks. Presently it occurs to half a dozen, or more, of them, that they are doing it about right. 'I wonder if John, or Charles, or Mary, or Ellen, is looking too? Wonder if they all are doing as well as I am?' And their thoughts leave the watch and the promise, and wander after Charles, or Ellen, and the temptation to look away becomes to great that in about half a minute, or less, you will see an occasional pair of eyes glance hurriedly to some convenient quarter of the room, and back quick to the watch again ; others, still less cautious, will turn the head, and look carelessly away; others, again, will drop off entirely, and cease to look, while some, more resolute and determined and careful than the rest, will not remove their eyes for a moment, and at the expiration of the time, will announce their triumph with evident satisfaction. At the close, some will insist upon a new trial. It may be granted; and then others will succeed ; and here it might be well to vary the experiment. The question might be asked: “If you are capable of holding your eyes fixed upon that watch, can you, with equal success, confine them to a picture, or mark, upon the board ?'
Now, if you can look at a watch, a picture, or a mere chalk mark upon the board, for a given time, can you louk at your books as long without change?' The intention here, perhaps, will be discovered by some, and they will begin to see the force of it. Let the experiment be made with the book, without attempting to study during the first few trials. If they succeed well, suggest that if they can look upon one page of the book, they might study that long without looking away. And if they can thus confine the attention for one, two, or three, minutes, they can also, by practicing, continue it to five and six. But it will be found that young scholars are not able to endure more than three, or four, minutes, even after months of practice."
Another method is to read sentences selected for the beauty of the thought, or for the adınirable manner in which they express some noble sentiment, or convey some moral truth. They are to be suited to the mind of the scholar, and are to be read to the whole class, beginning, of course, with short sentences, and afterwards proceeding to longer and more complicated. Every one in the class must be told to give close attention. The sentence is then read only once, slowly and distinctly. All those who can remember it are requested to raise their hands, and some one is called on to repeat it. It is wonderful to what an extent the attention and the memory can be cultivated by such a course as this. Do you suppose that children, who have had the advantage of this practice, will, when they hear a lecture, or sermon, in after life, complain that their memories are so wretched that they cannot recollect a word.
Warren Colburn's “Intellectual Arithmetic,” (and all mental arithmetics, are based upon his plan,) besides addressing the reasoning faculty, and leading pupils to understand the principles of arithmetic, is remarkably instrumental in increasing the power of thought, and in enabling the mind to hold and to follow a line of consecutive reasoning.
The object of the Common School is to give the pupil a good knowledge of the fundamental branches of an English education. I shall now remark upon the methods of teaching some of these branches somewhat more in detail.
Edward Everett says, “I hold that to read the English language well, that is, with intelligence, feeling, spirit, and effect; to write, with dispatch, a net, handsome, legible, hand, (for it is, after all, a great object in writing to have others able to read what we write,) and to be master of the four rules of arithmetic, so as to dispose, at once, with accuracy, every question of figures which comes up in practical life -I say, I call this a good education. And, if you add the ability to write pure, grammatical, English, I regard it as an excellent education. These are the tools. You can do much with them, but you are helpless without them.”
First, let me speak of reading. To read understandingly, naturally, expressively, and feelingly, is a delightful accomplishment, and yet, how few possess it ! Vocal exercises are excellent for cultivating and developing the powers of the voice; the proper pronunciation and distinct enunciation of words, the different intonations of the voice should be carefully regarded; but the signification of the words, the meaning of the author, is indispensable. A lesson in reading should be studied as thoroughly as any other lesson set in the school. The Teacher should inquire the meaning of every word and every allusion with which he may suppose the pupils to be unacquainted. As their minds become more mature, he should call their attention to the beauties, or defects, of any comparison employed. He should endeavor to impress them with a proper conception of the beauty, wisdom, or truth, of what they read. If a lesson of only a few lines can be learnt in this manner, set that lesson, and no more. Do not be discouraged if the progress be slow at first, it will be rapid by and by. At any rate, it is progress, whereas the other course is no progress at all. For surely, the uttering of pages of words, day after day, and month after month, without comprehending their meaning, is not at all elevated above the occupation of the parrot. Nor is it sufficient that the pupil understands the meanings of most of the words. He must know them all. If he is ignorant of the meaning of one word, he may lose all the soul of whatever he reads. Let the Teacher, in hearing a class read, have perpetually in mind, the question addressed by Philip, “ Understandest thou what thou readest ?”
There can be no good reading, if the lesson is not understood. If, upon examining a school, I found the pupils well acquainted with the meaning of what they read, I should feel the best assurance that they had pursued their other studies understandingly.
I wish to caution all against a theatrical tone. Most Professors of Elocution commit this error, and many who attend their instructions, imitate them in this respect. Hence, there is so little good reading among us. On the one hand, some who have never received any instruction from a competent Teacher, read in a careless, slovenly, and wretched, manner, mumbling their words in the same monotone, whatever the subject may be; while, on the other hand, many, taking their cuc from some Professor of Elocution, or some distinguished public reader, assume an unnatural tone, and with an air and manner all affectation and conceit, begin what they consider remarkably stunning reading. Heaven preserve me from it. “I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew,” than be obliged to listen to it. I pray you avoid it. Of one of these theatrical readers it was said that, at dinner, she stabbed the potatoes instead of taking them, and that she asked for a knife in the same tone in which she would say, “Give me the dagger.”
I proceed next to the subject of Geography. This study is often commenced with a series of definitions which are got hy heart, repeated, laid aside, and forgotten; forgotten, for one reason, because not explained, or understood, the langnage being made to precede the ideas; and for another, because the words which the detinitions are to explain are new to the pupils. A better way of commencing geography, with all children, is to call their attention to the spot on which they live; to point out surrounding objects, and mark their relative situations on the