Page images

The True Ends of Education.


Knowledge, to be useful as a guide in life, should always be in advance of other things. Were we governed by instinci, solely, this might not be necessary; but rational, as we are, how can we be expected to act—at least to act wisely—any farther than we know?

Again, I say, that I am not defending the practice of prematurely tasking the brain or any other organ. Half the diseases which afflict humanity, probably have their origin in causes of this kind; and half those which are hereditary, are aggravated and rendered unnecessarily fatal by them. Still, as I have already intimated, I deem the moderate and appropriate use of all the organs, and the brain among the rest, not only harmless, but salutary; and I hope no parent or teacher will be frightened out of a reasonable cultivation of the mind of the infant, because he is told by pseudo-philosophers, physiologists, or phrenologists, that there is danger of injuring its tender organ. I hope the mind will be always kept in advance of the instincts and propensities ; not so much, it is true, by books or set lessons, especially if they are long ones, as by familiar conversation, short and appropriate stories, apt illustrations, and occasional readings. As to set lessons, they should at the earliest age be short. As the infantile stomach demands small, but at the same time frequent supplies, with seasons of rest or change quite as frequent, so does the brain. The error of parents and the teachers of infant and primary schools probably consists far less in cultivating the mind proportionably, than in attempting to keep it employed too long at a time, or too long on the samne subject, and, above all, in repressing physical exercise, at frequent and suitable seasons, and in suitable measure.

But I must return from this long digression, to tell you more about my friend Honestus. Intellectual education is not, with him, a prominent object. He does not teach his children to observe for the sake of observing, or to remember for the sake of remembering. Nor does he ever feel satisfied in the mere acquisition of language or facts. Though he would have them by all means intelligent, he is still more anxious to have them good. The adversary of all good, he is accustomed to say, is by no means wanting in knowledge; the trouble with him is, that he makes a bad use of it. Let my children, he says, be wise ; but let them be wise that they may be healthful, and good, and useful, and happy.

I have presented you an example of Honestus' method of giving instruction on health, when speaking of his conversation with his children about twilight. That may serve as a tolerable specimen of this part of his course of instruction. The pre


Efects of Parental Erample.

ceptive part of all his physical education is conducted in a similar manner.

What he teaches, however, in this way, is enforced by a corresponding example. He does not expect his children will rise early, however ingenious in their nature or application his lessons on the subject may be, so long as he lies in bed late himself. He does not expect them to be temperate, while they see him gluttonous. He does not expect they will become habitually early risers from being called or scolded up; or temperate, from being lectured for intemperance or for gluttony. He expects to be, in all things, what he wishes his children to be. On this great principle he takes his stand, and has long done so. He was a schoolmaster many years, and a successful one ; and no small share of his success was the result of acting on this principle.

But he carries this principle into morals, as much as into manners and physical habits; and even more.

Here it is, pre-eminently, that he becomes what he would have his children be. And here it is, more than any where else, that the world goes wrong.-It is in awakening, developing and directing the affections; it is in forming the temper, and bringing into proper subjection the propensities; it is, in one word, in educating the heart, that the spirit of reform, at the present crisis, seems to be most demanded.

Honestus wishes to have his children quiet and serene. Does he tell them stories, illustrating the advantages of a serene temper? Does he labor with all his might, to secure their conscientious approbation of the right, and their hearty condemnation of the wrong? To effect this, even in a preceptive way, does he exert himself in season and out of season, on every proper occasion ? Does he exhaust his powers of rhetoric and eloquence in setting forth, from time to time, the advantages of possessing our souls in patience ? He certainly does. But is this all ? Very far from that. All this might be done, and well done; and yet the more important division of this department of moral education left, not merely undone, but untouched.

If he wishes his children to speak in a low tone of voice-I mean without hollowing—in common conversation, he speaks thus himself. If he wishes them to maintain a quiet deportment at table or elsewhere, he keeps as quiet as possible himself. If he does not wish them to interrupt each other, or their parents or friends or playmates, in conversation, he takes care not to interrupt them or any one else, in their presence. If he wishes to discourage all haste, or discontent, or murmuring, or frowning, he takes care to go calmly to work, to be contented, good-natured, and

[blocks in formation]

smiling. And if he does not wish them to answer again,' or to criminate each other, he takes care not to set them the example. In short, he strives to be, in all the commonest circumstances of life, what he wishes them to be.

Samuel is fond of exaggeration. Perhaps he acquired the habit at the district school. “I saw,' he would say, ' a hundred dogs to-day, father ;' when he knows, if he would reflect, that there were scarcely twenty. I saw a great turnip to-day, in passing through the street, as large round as a bushel basket;' he told his father when he came home, one evening; whereas he knew, perfectly well, that he was guilty of exaggerating.

But how does his father manage him ? What efforts does he make to break so bad a habit; such an obvious stepping stone to downright falsehood ? Does he take special notice of it? Does he rate him for it? Or has he some secret and more efficacious method of management ?

These, except the first, are questions which I cannot answer. What is done, when I am not present, in the almost sacred retreats of domestic life, I am, of course, ignorant. But there are some things which I know to be done, which, if nothing else is done, must have a very great and permanent influence.

The father not only sets an example of perfect accuracy before the son, in all his statements, be they ever so trivial; but shows the strictest regard to truth, in others, on all occasions. His wife and bis other children, are expected and encouraged to have the most conscientious regard to truth, not only in all their statements, but in all their looks and actions. There are, as every reader who reflects must needs know, a thousand ways of telling falsehoods without the use of words; and, I am sorry to say, that such falsehoods are not unknown even in some of our best families. But in the family of Honestus, there is not, so far as my observation goes, the slightest approach to any such thing. Except in the case of Samuel, they were always remarkable for speaking and acting with the strictest regard to truth ; they are still more so, however, for the sake of restoring Samuel. And it gives me great pleasure to state, that they are slowly effecting their object. One thing, at least, is already accomplished. Samuel begins to see his error, and is uniting his own efforts with theirs, to break the chains of habit.

Jane was once inclined to interrupt others in conversation, especially at table. But the habit is now nearly gone. She seldom forgets herself nowadays, so far as to speak until others have done speaking. If she ever does so, it is only when she is thrown off her guard by something extraordinary, as the arrival


Report on Public Instruction.

of a band of Indians, the appearance of the aurora borealis, or something else equally uncommon.

Do you ask how she acquired the mastery over herself, in this respect? It was not by being scolded or lectured. It was not by direct efforts of any kind.

The first attempt was by means of the influence of silent example. When she spoke, all the rest, as if by concert, waited till she was through, and then proceeded with their remarks. As this did not at first seem to accomplish the intended object, but, on the contrary, only served to raise her, in her own estimation, the father had recourse to another expedient.

At the breakfast table, dinner table, &c. he would relate stories. These Jane was very fond of hearing, but the habit of interrupting her father by her numerous questions--some of thern highly unnecessary--osten so protracted the story, that the repast was finished before it ended. Whenever this was the case, the story was not concluded till the next meal. This was exceedingly mortifying to Jane, especially when her father frankly told her the reason of it; that it was because her questions had consumed all the time; and that to be compelled to wait for the remainder of the story was the natural and just punishment of her fault. She resolved on reformation ; and though her progress was at first slow, it is now much more rapid, and there is reason to believe that in three months more she will obtain a complete victory.


We have received and examined with intense interest, Prof. C. E. Stowe's · Report on Ele ventary Public Instruction in Europe, made to the thirtysixth General Assembly of the State of Ohio,' under date Dec. 19, 1837. It is a pamphlet of 57 closely printed octavo pages; and contains the most ample information in regard to the state of common education in England, Scotland, France, Prussia, &c. It seems that Prof. S., on leaving this country for Europe, had received a request from the Legislature of Ohio, through Gov. Lucas, that he would make the inquiries which have resulted in this most invaluable report. It is impossible for us to present in a condensed form, an article the whole of which is already condensed as much as possible ; and to publish the entire report would be equally impract cable. We have resolved therefore to present some extracts. The following

Moral and Religious Instruction.


is the closing article of the appendix, containing the replies of distinguished teachers or friends of education, to twentyfive important questions by Prof. S.; and will give our readers a tolerable idea of the nature and results of his mission, as described in the pamphlet.

“ The following inquiries, with some others not here included, were made out by a committee of the Association of Teachers in Hamilton county. I obtained the answers during my tour in Europe, from Mr Wood of the Sessional School in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rev. Mr Kunze of the Frederick Orphan House, in Berlin, Prussia, and Professor Schwartz of the University of Heidelberg, in Baden. As I received the answers orally and in different languages, I cannot pretend to give them with verbal accuracy; but I have endeavored, in every instance, to make a faithful representation of the sentiment.

1. What is the best method of inculcating moral and relig. ious duty in schools ?

Mr Wood. Every morning I have recitations in the Bible, accompanied with such brief and pertinent remarks as naturally occur in connection with the recitation.

Mr Kunze. In Prussia, the scholars are all taught Luther's Smaller Catechism ; they have a daily recitation in the Bible, beginning with the historical portions; the schools are always opened and closed with prayer, and the singing of some religious hymns. The Bible and Psalm-book are the first books which are put into the hands of the child, and they are his constant companions through the whole course of his education, and required to be such through life.

Professor Schwartz. Every teacher should have a religious spirit, and by his personal influence, diffuse it among his pupils. The religious and moral instruction in the schools of Baden is similar to that in Prussia, as stated by Mr Kunze.

2. What is the best mode of using the Bible in schools ?

Mr W. Take the whole Bible, just as it is in our translation ; for the younger children, select the easier historical portions, and go through with it as the scholars advance.

Mr K. In Prussia we have tried all sorts of ways, by extracts, by new translations, by commentaries, written expressly for schools; but after all those trials, there is now but one opinion among all acquainted with the subject, and that is, that the whole Bible, just as it stands in the translations in common use, should be a reading and recitation book in all the schools. In the Protestant schools, Luther's translation is used, and in the Catholic schools, the translation approved by that church. The

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »