Page images
PDF
EPUB

LECTURE IV.

ON

MODEL SCHOOLS,

By THOMAS D. JAMES.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

necessary to ponder every step, and who can at no time declare himself to be certainly in the right way.

I would not be understood to maintain that there are no fixed and settled principles of education. Founded, as educational principles must be, on physiological and mental science, and enlightened as we are, by the revelation that God has kindly bestowed upon us to guide us in all the relations of life, we have a good foundation on which to build one of the loftiest and noblest structures that have ever sprung up at the bidding of human intellect. But that sightly edifice has not yet been reared. Many wise and good men have labored upon it; and the day is not far distant, when education, as a science, if it may thus be called, will stand as far before the crude system of the present day, as chemistry does before the alchemy of darker ages.

I proceed at once to my subject, only premising, that, as in a lecture of an hour on a subject so extensive, there can be no room for details, I must necessarily confine myself to general principles. I beg leave, then, to call your attention in the first place, to some of the more prominent points in the ordering of schools, by due exercise of which, they would be esteemed model schools for imitation ;. secondly, to show you the influences which such schools should exert over the public mind; and for the sake of classification, I may call these two heads, the principles and the influences of model schools.

First, of the Principles of model schools. In order to exercise the proper influences, a school must in itself be excellent. Whatever temporary approbation may attach to any splendid imposition, or any school founded on plausible, but false philosophy, public sentiment will in time condemn it. It is true excellence alone that can maintain any permanently good influences. There are four classes of circumstances in which a model school must be excellent; — the accommodations, the instructions, the arrangements, and the government.

1. Of the accommodations, I make but a single remark : that the voice of the reformer cries aloud on this point as connected with physical education ; but it must yet cry louder ånd longer, until the place of education, its buildings, its grounds, its furniture shall be esteemed worthy of being made a model of taste in every respect; until it shall become a place of comfort, of health, of delight, and of desire to every child.

2. Of the instructions, also, I pause only to say, that I am

not prepared to recommend any new measures for the communication of knowledge. I doubt not improvements have been made, and are yet to be made in modes of instruction; but in my own humble opinion, we have been less in fault in this respect, than many have supposed. I have learned to look with suspicion, upon all modern systems that attempt the overthrow of our old-fashioned modes of communicating knowledge; which, notwithstanding all their errors, I look upon with almost as much reverence, as judges do the common law of England; and for precisely the same reason, — that they have been established, and improved, and practised by learned men; that they have stood the test of time; and because I would rather trust to the long continued sanction of public sentiment, than I would to the visionary, innovating spirit of the age. Indeed, I have received most of the new schemes of the present day, as decidedly retrograde in point of instructional philosophy; and I have far less fear of the world's remaining in ignorance, than I have of its abusing the knowledge, which even the present facilities cannot fail to diffuse among all classes of men.

3. But there is one portion of school routine to wliich I beg leave to direct your attention for a few moments. 1 allude to my third class of school circumstances, which I know not how to designate except by the simple term — arrangements. And though I might find it difficult to make an uninitiated person understand what I mean by the term, I feel persuaded that every enlightened, practical teacher will know at once what is meant by the word arrangements, however difficult it might prove of definition. It is not the government or the laws of school. It is that ordering of circumstances, in virtue of which everyone knows and keeps his place; in virtue of which there is a time for every thing and every thing in its time, as well as a place for every thing and every thing in its place. It is that part of the machinery by which all the hundred little motions are united in one grand movement. Like the sympathetic nerve, it combines in one action and one result, all the operations, little or great, of the body. The mention of a single example will make my meaning perfectly clear. In the management of a large school, it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to order the successive recitations in such a manner as not to produce collision and interference. If I may be allowed to speak for one moment as an individual, it has cost

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »