Page images
PDF
EPUB

ARTICLE.

PAGE. ( READING, AND Reading Books, (from the Second Report of Hon. Horace Mana,

Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education,) . . . 289 II. School of Plato at ATHENS. (Translated from the German of Tenneman, by

Professor Edwards of Andover,) · · · · · - 299 III. Dillaway's Terence, . . . . . . . . 303 IV. Views OF EDUCATION IN THE Early Days of New ENGLAND. Cotton Mather's

Education of his children, . . . . . . 305 V. RICHARD BENTLEY, . . . . . . . . 311 VI. THE HISTORÝ of Merchant TAYLORs' Scuoot, . . .

319 VII. MISCELLANEOUS INTELLIGENCE. Prospective Education in England - The Royal

Geographical Society-Bath Church of England College-Brighton Chimney

Sweeper's School, . . . . . . . . 329 NOTICES OF Books. The Moral Teacher-The School Teacher's Manual, . .

336

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

MENTAL AND PRACTICAL ARITHMETIC. By CHARLES DAVIES, Author of a complete course of Mathematics.

Favorable testimonials of this work have been received from all parts of the country—it is rapidly gaining introduction into our best Academies and Schools. The pecuniary consideration as well the true' merits of this work, gives it a pre-eminence over all others. The present edition with supplement contains a full quantity of examples, amounting to upwards of 3000, and is afforded at a low price, which will bring it within the reach of every pupil.

FIRST LESSONS IN ALGEBRA;

A new work by the same author ; this work is elementary, and designed to follow the Mental and ractical Arithmetic. Teachers who have examined this work, pronounce it (unqualifiedly) to be admirably adapted for beginners in the study of this Science.

FOR SALE BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS IN BOSTON, NEW YORK, PHILA

DELPHIA AND BALTIMORE.

teit of
Camist. Trwachá. D.
of Boston.

SG. 26. 1851)
AMERICAN

ANNALS OF EDUCATION.

JULY, 1839.

Art. I.--READING, AND READING BOOKS.

(From the second Report of Hon. Horace Mann, Secrelary of the Massachusetts

Board of Education.]

Reading is divisible into two parts. It consists of the mechanical, and the mental. The mechanical part is the utterance of the articulate sounds of a language, or inspecting its written ur printed signs. It is called mechanical, because the operation closely resembles that of a machine, which may receive the best of materials and run through a thousand parcels of them every year;-the machine itself remaining just as bare and naked at the end of the year, as it was at the beginning. On the other hand, one portion of the mental part of reading consists in a reproduction in the mind of the reader of whatever was in the mind of the author; so that whether the author describes atoms or worlds, narrates the history of individuals or nations, kindles into sublimity, or melts in pathos,-- wbatever was in the author's mind starts into sudden existence in the reader's mind, as nearly as their different mental constitutions will allow. An example of the purely mechanical part is exhibited in reading a foreign language, no word of which is understood; as in the case of Milton's daughters, who read the dead languages to their blind father ;-they, with eyes, seeing nothing but black marks upon white paper,-he, without eyes, surveying material and spiritual worlds,--at once charmed by their beauties, and instructed by their wisdom.' With the mental part, then, reading becomes the noblest in

strument of wisdom ; without it, it is the most despicable part of folly and worthlessness. Beforehand, it would seem quite as incredible, that any person should compel children to go through with the barren forms of reading, without ideas; as to inake them perform all the motions of eating, without food. The body would not dwindle under the latter, more certainly, than the mind, under the former. The inevitable consequences are, that all the delight of acquisition is foregone; the reward which nature bestows upon the activity of the faculties is forfeited, a reward which is richer than all prizes and more efficient than all chastisement ;-and an inveterate habit is formed of dissociating thought and language. “Understandest thou what thou readest," therefore, is a question quite as apposite when put by a teacher to a child in his horn book, as when asked by an A posile of the anibassador of a Queen.

Entertaining views of the importance of this subject, of which the above is only the fechlest expression, I have devoted especial pains to learn, with some degree of numerical accuracy, how far ihe reading, in our common schools, is an exercise of the mind in thinking and feeling, and how far it is a barren action of the organs of speech upon the atmosphere. My information is derived, principally, from the written statements of the school committees of the respective towns, gentlemen, who are certainly exempt from all temptation to disparage the schools, they superintend. The result is, that more than eleven-twelfths of all the children in the reading classes, in our schools, do not understand the meaning of the words they read; that they do not master the sense of the reading lessons, and that the ideas and feelings intended by the autl:or to be conveyed to, and excited in, the reader's mind, still rest in the author's intention, never having yet reached the place of their destination. And by this, it is not meant, that the scholars do not obtain such a full comprehension of the subject of the reading lessons, in its various relations and bearings, as a scientific or erudite reader would do, but that they do not acquire a reasonable and practicable understanding of them. It would hardly seem that the combined efforts of all persons, engaged, could have accomplished more, in defeating the true objects of reading.

How the cause of this deficiency is to be apportioned among the legal supervisors of the schools, parents, teachers or authors of school books, it is impossible to say ; but surely it is an evil, gratuitous, widely prevalent, and threatening the most alarming consequences. But it is not a remediless one. There is intelligence enough, in this community, to search out the cause, and wisdom enough to find and apply a remedy.

It has been already stated, that we may acquire a knowledge of a very few things,—such as are placed within the range of our senses, - without the use of language ; but that language is the only medium, by which anything, prior to our own memory and experience or beyond our own vision, can be made known to us. Although, therefore, the words which our language is said to contain, seem to be many; yet when we think of all the relations of human life,-domestic, business, and social ;-of the countless objects in the different kingdoms of nature, with their connexions and dependencies ;-of the sciences, which have been founded upon them, and of the arts, to which they have been made subservient ;-of all, in fine, external to ourselves, within the circle of time and beneath the arch of heaven; and of our own conscious hopes, fears, desires, to which that arch is no boundary; we shall see, at once, that the words of our language, numerous as they are, are only as one to infinity, compared with the number of the objects to which they are daily applied. And yet these words are sufficient not only to present us with an image and a record of past and present existences, but they are capable of outrunning the course of time, and describing the possibilities of the future, and of transcendo ing the limits of reality and portraying the fancy-peopled worlds, created by the imagination. And, what is still more wonderful, is, that with the aid of these comparatively few words, we can designate and touch, as it were with the finger, any fact or event in this universe of facts and events, or parcel out any groups of them, from tens to tens of myriads; or we can note any period on the dial-plate of by-gone centuries, just as easily as we refer · to the hours of the passing day. Now to accomplish this, it is

obvious, that language must be susceptible of combinations indefinitely numerous; that most of its single words must assume different meanings, in different collocations, and that phrases, capable of expressing any one, or any millions of these facts, vicissitudes, relations, must be absolutely inexhaustible. Then, again, language has various, strongly marked forms, as colloquial, philosophical, poetical, devotional; and in each of these divisions, whatever subject we wish to separate from the rest, language can carve it out and display it distinctly and by itself. for our examination. It handles the most abstruse relations and affinities, and traces the most subtile analogies to their vanishing point ; or, with equal ease, it condenses the most universal principles into brief sentences, or, if we please, into single words. Hence, in using it, to express any greater or smaller part of what is perceived by the senses, by intellect, or by genius, the the two conditions are, that we must discern, mentally, what individual object or quality, or what combinations of objects and qualities, we wish to specify; and then we must select the words and form the phrases,-or volumes, if need be, which will depict or designate by name, the individual objects we mean, or will draw a line round the combination of objects we wish to exhibit and describe. All true use of language, therefore, necessarily involves a mental act of adjustment, measure, precision, pertinency; otherwise it cannot fix the extent or gauge the depth of any subject. Language is to be selected and applied to the subject-matter, whether that subject-matter be business, history, art or consciousness, just as a surveyor applies his chain to the measurement of areas, or as an artist selects his colors to portray the original. But what must be the result, if the surveyor knows nothing of the length of the chain he uses, and if the artist selects his colors by chance, and knows not to what parts he applies them?

Hence, the acquisition of language consists far less in mastering words as individuals, than it does in adjusting their applications to things, in sentences and phrases. And one great ohject -there are others not less important-of teaching the children in our schools to read, is that they may there commence this habit of adjustment, of specifying and delineating with precision, whatever is within the range of their knowledge and experience. All attempts, therefore, to teach language to children, are vain, which have not this constant reference to the subjectmatter, intended to be specified and described. If the thing signified is not present to the mind, it is impossible, that the language should be a measure, for, by the supposition, there is nothing to be measured. It becomes a mere hollow sound ; and with this disadvantage, that, from the parade, which is made in administering the nothingness, the child is led to believe he has received something. The uselessness of such a process would seem to be enough, without the falsity. The fact, that many children may not be able to make great progress in this adjustment of words to things, so far from being any reply to this view of the subject, only renders it so much the more important, that what is done should be done rightly.

Notwithstanding the immense treasures of knowledge, accumulated, in the past six thousand years, and the immense difference between the learned men of our own, and of ancient times; yet no one denies that children are now brought into the world in the same state of ignorance, as they were before the flood. When born, only a single instinct is developed,- that of appetite for food. Weeks pass, before the quickest of all the senses -the sight--takes note of any object. At about the age of a year, the faculty of language dimly appears. One after another, other powers bud forth; but it seems to be the opinion of the best metaphysicians, that the highest faculties of the intellect

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »