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bosom; and obstacles unknown to the tranquil and the meek, block up every avenue to the hearts and consciences of those who are under his control.
2. Carefully avoid every thing that is repulsive, even to most sensitive, either in manner or conduct. Be neat in your person. A slovenly appearance degrades a man in the sight of the world, and always lessens the respect he receives from children. A man is fearfully mistaken, if he imagines that any strength of mind, or variety of attainments, will excuse vulgarity, rudeness, or dirt.
Let me entreat you also, carefully to guard against the formation of certain mental habits, to which your station and employment particularly expose you. You are accustomed to cominand in the school; and if you do not take great care, you will feel it difficult to brook contradiction out of it. Without incessant watchfulness, you will become arrogant and dogmatic, or pedantic and prejudiced. Such is the natural tendency of constant intercourse with immature minds, looking up to the teacher as an authority. Now all these things are so extremely offensive to intelligent persons, that, if indulged, they will effectually shut you out from society, to which, under other circumstances, you might obtain easy access.
3. Diligently pursue a regular and systematic course of private study ; and let it bear as much as possible upon the duties of your particular profession. The great object of all education is to prepare for usefulness. Keep this in mind, and read and study simply with the view of thereby obtaining the power to do more good, in the particular position in which providence has placed you. A teacher who feels aright on this point, will soon see that it his first duty, to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the elements of knowledge. He cannot be content to read or write ill, in order that he may give more time to mathematics ; nor will he consider it any apology for spelling incorrectly, or for being a dull and slow arithmetician, that he is a diligent student of Latin. A man who acts in this foolish and inconsistent way, (and, alas, there are many,) might learn wisdom from the savages. Some Virginian philanthropists once offered to educate a number of American Indians: they received the following reply:-“ Brothers of the white skin, you must know that all people do not have the same ideas on the same subjects ; and you must not take it ill, that our manner of thinking, in regard to the kind of education which you offer us, does not agree with yours. We have had in this particular, some experience. Several of our young men werc, some time since, educated at the northern colleges, and learned there all the sciences ; but when they returned to us, we found they were spoiled. They were miserable runners; they did not know how to live in the woods; they could not bear hunger and cold; they could neither build a cabin, nor kill a deer, nor conquer an enemy; they had even forgotten our language ; so that not being able to serve us as warriors, or hunters, or counsellors, they were absolutely good for nothing.” Too many teachers are like these young savages; they may be excellent mathematicians, and good classical scholars; but, alas, they read so ill, write so carelessly, and are withal so unwilling to stoop to the drudgery of communicating the elements of knowledge, to those who can digest nothing else, that as teachers in an elementary school, they are absolutely good for nothing.
Let it, I pray you, be your first object, to be thoroughly grounded in every branch of knowledge you have to teach. The steady, continuous labor which must be gone through, to know any thing whatsoever thoroughly, is an admirable discipline for the mind. Besides, nothing is so prolific as one thing well known; it is an excellent starting point for a thousand others. Study principles; and never rest satisfied until you are so fainiliar with every thing you profess, and with the steps by which it must be attained, that you can at once ascertain whether your pupils do, or do not understand what you are communicating, -can discover where their difficulties lie,-can clear up that which is obscure,-illustrate that which is but partially understood,-and present old truths in new and varied aspects. In this way alone, can you ever hope to be an interesting instructor. For although it be true, that there must be some natural “ aptness to teach,” in order to communicate knowledge successfully, yet most persons probably owe more to culture, in this respect, than is commonly imagined. No natural talent will enable a man to gain the interest and respect of his pupils so soon, as such a knowledge of his profession, as will enable him quickly to detect an inaccuracy, and to discuss and settle the various questions and difficulties which press upon the mind, and, naturally enough seem all-important to the pupil. “It is worthy of remark,” says Professor Jardine, “ that whatever change for the better shall be made, in our systems of education, it must begin with the teachers themselves. The art of teaching, like all other arts, is founded chiefly on experience. Improvements, therefore, are not to be expected from legislators and politicians, who have many other objects to engage their attention ; nor even from men of science, unless they have an experience in the business of education. It therefore becomes the duty of every one engaged in teaching, to collect facts, to record observations, to watch the progress of the human faculties, as they expand under the influence of education, and thus to unite their efforts for the general improvement of our academical establishments.”
Teaching, then, should be the object of your constant meditations. It should engage your thoughts by night and by day; and it should regulate, to a very large extent, your private studies ;-it should be the end of your labors. The principal reason why there are so few good teachers, is, that a school is almost always regarded as a stepping-stone to something else. The hireling fulfils his day, and then hastes to pursuits more congenial to his taste, and destined, he trusts, eventually to deliver him from the present “house of bondage.” This is ruinous to success. Ardor and enthusiasm are absolutely necessary to carry a teacher through the drudgery of his duties. He must take pleasure in communicating instruction to the youth; his immediate reward must be their progress; and in the consciousness of discharging one of the most important of all obligations, he must find motives sufficiently powerful to sustain him under exhausting labor.
Since, however, the ability to instruct ably in the elementary branches, demands a thorough knowledge of a variety of subjects, it will be desirable, still to keep in view the advancement of your school, to pursue a course of study of a much more enlarged character than would be required, but for its relation to the general discipline and improvement of the mind.
But the chief object of your study, after all, should be human nature, and the laws which regulate and govern the human mind. Study these, not merely as laid down in
books, but by a constant habit of observing and analysing character; tracing the motives of actions, both in yourself and in others; and observing conduct, in reference to the moral principles which lie at the foundation of it. Account nothing too minute and trivial for meditation. It is by the frequent contemplation of trivial instances, that great general principles are developed.
MENTAL PHILOSOPHY, which, as a science, may be termed “the anatomy of human nature,” should be diligently studied by every instructor of the young. This knowledge is, in fact, as essential to you, as an acquaintance with the nature and kinds of the several soils which he attempts to render productive, is to the intelligent husbandman. Under the most favorable circumstances. you will have much experience to gain at the cost of your pupils ; it is therefore of the highest importance, that you should take every precaution to avoid unnecessary mischief. Books on education, involving the application of these principles, will from time to time come under your notice, and these will doubtless be pursued with eagerness. But allow me to say, read them cautiously. In this department it is especially necessary to “ try the spirits,” for “false prophets are gone out into the world.” Many a promising volume will not be found to furnish a single hint that is really practical and valuable.
In all your studies, endeavor to cultivate clearness and precision of thought; carefully dicriminating between sound and false reasoning; and habitually seeking after great general principles. That habit of expressing the result of
your inquiries, in your own words in writing, will be found ; : highly beneficial, in preventing indistinctness and confusion
in your ideas; and the immediate impartation to others of that which you have acquired, will, more than any thing else, tend to improve your own mind.
In order to accomplish these things, I know that great difficulties must be overcome. Your previous occupations and habits of mind, have perhaps been unfavorable to mental application, and now, the exercise of ATTENTION, (on which every acquisition depends,) is, in any degree of intensity, laborious and painful. Do not, however, be discouraged ; by repeated efforts, that which is hard will become easy. Cultivate the habit of attention. Be always attentive. If you are observing phenomena of any kind, do it carefully,
with your whole mind. If you are reflecting on any subject, be determined to abstract yourself, for the time being, from all external disturbances. In short, whatever you do, “ do it heartily;"' or, as Lord Brougham has expressed it, “be a whole man to one thing at once." If you can obtain this kind of mastery over your faculties, you will find it comparatively easy to pass with advantage from one occupation to another : to stop one train of thought, and to commence another; and thus to improve those fragments of time, which otherwise will certainly be lost.
Still, with all your care and effort, you must expect to suffer much, not only from that natural restlessness which belongs to almost every mind which has not been well disciplined in early life, but also from the wanderings of a vain and wayward imagination. The regulation of the IMAGINATION, is so intimately connected with virtuous habits, that, even apart from any considerations connected with the improvement of the intellect, the most anxious attention should be paid to its culture and government. This faculty, which exercises itself in the re-production of past sensations and notions, bringing vividly before the mind both good and evil, in various forms, and combined in every possible variety of manners, tyrannizes over some men with terrible and despot ic sway. The objects which in early life have usurped the mind, -the books which have been read,—the trains of thought which have been indulged,—these, constitute the materials, by means of which it creates pictures, re-produces sensations and emotions, recalls ideas, and, according to the character of these creations and re-productions, ennobles or contaminates the man. Hence the importance, not only of habitually controlling the immediate exercise of this imperious faculty, but also of excluding from the mind every thing of a debasing and corrupting tendency. The mischief which is produced by reading immoral writings, for instance, can never be estimated by any immediate result. At the moment of perusal, the mind may be apparently unaffected by the evil with which it is thus brought into contact; other passions or sentiments may be in dominion; a momentary smile is, perhaps, all that has been excited, and the matter is forgotten : the polluted train, of foul images and bad thought, has passed so rapidly along, that it seems as if it had never been. And it is not perhaps till years after