Page images
PDF
EPUB

Education in the Family.

heart, the wif by the fingerre his aid, an touclefforts, if wepointed. individual arve light, that discipline

our conduct; the Voice of God, which we are bound to hear, encouraged by its promises, and awed by its threatenings, in the resistance of every temptation, the endurance of every trial, and the discharge of every duty.

Let his Holy Spirit be sought, with earnest and devout supplication, for both parent and child, teacher and pupil; to enlighten, purify, succor and bless ; to keep from all evil, and to strengthen in all good. Thus the reason, the conscience, the heart, the will, of our children and youth will be reached, and touched, as if by the finger of God. He will honor and prosper our efforts, if we thus seek his aid, and use the instruments which he has appointed.

Come happy time! when individual and public opinion shall so regard this momentous subject in its true light, that the Bible shall be the Great Moral Guide and Helper in the discipline of all our families and schools; Prayer, perpetually invoke the blessing of God upon its use; and the Holy Spirit, be shed down to crown the whole with its divinely efficacious influence !

Then, the country and the church will be safe; because their foundations will rest on the Rock of Ages.

Then, the patriot and the Christian may look around with humble exultation, on our free institutions, — hoping that they may become the lights of the world, — and saying to them, with prophetic truth, 'Be ye perpetual.'

a

SOWING THE SEEDS OF CHARACTER. No. I.

It was just six o'clock, the twentieth of November ; the weather was mild, like summer ; the stars shone ; and though day was approaching in the east, not a sound was yet heard, except the shrill voice of chanticleer, the ticking' of the timepiece on the wall, and a little snoring in one of the apartments, when my friend Honestus awaked his little daughters Sarah and Jane, and his son Samuel; and while his companion was making ready a simple and frugal breakfast, assisted them in adjusting their dress and preparing to go and partake of it.

And now, reader, what think you was their conversation, while they were putting on their clothes ? Was it about their breakfast — what they should have, &c. ? Was it about some other object of only secondary importance, instead of giving the fresh thoughts of the morning to subjects of the first magnitude ?

12

A Father's Method of Instruction.

Or was it on topics elicited by the occasion, and calculated to promote their mental and moral improvement?-I will give you a specimen of it, and after a few remarks, leave you to make your own reflections.

• Is it morning, father?' said Sarah, rubbing her eyes, not yet more than half open, 'I should not think it was morning yet.' • Yes, it is morning;' said Honestus. It is now the morning twilight.' • Twilight ?' said the little girls, both as it were, with one voice ; 'twilight, father? What is twilight? I never heard of twilight before.' "Twilight,' said the father, is the time between the darkness of night and the bright shining of the sun, when it is partly light and partly dark. In the morning, before the sun appears, it is morning twilight; in the evening, after the sun sets, and it begins to grow dark, we call it evening twilight. It is now morning twilight.

* Children should rise as soon as the morning twilight comes, and as soon as they can see to assist one another in putting on their clothes. What animals—what beasts and birds I mean are now slumbering and snoring, while the light is advancing and the sun is almost ready to appear in the east ? Do you, any of you know?' The children did not answer. The hog,' he continued, and the woodchuck, and the bear, and a few other animals, and a great many men and women and children sleep late in the morning, and seldom or never see the morning twilight; but the robins and other birds, and the hens and the animals which are not stupid and lazy, are up early. Now, which do you prefer to be like ; the lazy, stupid creatures that lie snoring all the morning, or the lively, intelligent ones, that get up as soon as the twilight comes on, and perhaps, like the robin, sing their songs to the great Creator?'

The children all liked the robin and the morning twilight; and resolved to be up every morning, in future, in good season. It is to be hoped they will keep their resolution. Should they do so, and should they, while getting up and dressing themselves acquire a correct idea of only one word a day for thirty years to come, which shall be as important as the word twilight, what an extensive vocabulary will they possess at the end of that period; to say nothing of physical advantages and moral lessons !

Now is there a parent in the wide world who cannot give his children this sort of instruction and education ? Is there a father or a mother who is not qualified for the task? Is there one who has not time? If it required set hours and set lessons, indolence or avarice might put in an apology. But no such thing. The father can converse with and instruct his children

What all Parents may do.

13

while they are getting up and while they are going to bed ; while sitting with them and while walking with them; at meals and at all other interviews. The mother can do it while she is at her labors, at the broom, the distaff, the wash tub, or the bread tray. No person in the wide world has so fine a chance to instruct children, especially girls, in such a way as will cause the instruction to sink deep, as the mother at her sink, or wash tub, or bread tray, or oven. But if this is the place for intellectual instruction, how inuch more for moral inculcation and discipline. Oh, there is not on the face of the whole earth another educator so efficient as the fond, intelligent, persevering mother.

Some may smile at this, and say that children will never, in this way, acquire the habits of close attention, patient investigation and laborious study--habits which it is a proininent part of a thorough education to acquire. We deny the assertion. Though often made, it cannot be sustained. This parental education, of which I have been speaking, is the very preparation which is required as a preliminary to those necessary habits. It gives the love of study-a love which, as things now are, is exceedingly rare ; and for want or which it is that the world is deluged with dull task work, superficial scholarship, and learned individuals without minds or souls.

Some will say, too, that if we are constantly talking with children in a way calculated to instruct them, we shall finally disgust them with every thing of the kind, and defeat our object. This, however, is not at all necessary. Our conversation, need not, of course, always turn on the meaning of words, or the importance of early rising. A thousand forms and topics of conversation will instruct, or at least improve and elevate. The very plays of children are among the more interesting and important means of improving, not their health only, but their minds and hearts. I am sorry that so many parents, and even not a few teachers, seem disposed to stand aloof from the recreations of their children.

But the time! parents cannot find time to be always with their children—this will be, as it ever has been, the cry. Yes ; and it always will be so, till parents begin to understand what education is, and that it is the principal business of domestic life.

I do not say, however, that the father-no, nor the mothershould be always in the company of the child; on the contrary, I believe it better that he should be sometimes left to himself. But I do say, with confidence, that be the other instructers and educators of a child ever so numerous, the mother aided by the 14

Teaching Definitions.

father and the rest of the family, should be the principal. They should be so, because they are most nearly concerned in their welfare, because they love them most, and because their lessons will be deepest and most permanent.

The only solid objection to the views I have advanced is the want of time. But this, as we have seen, is not so very weighty, after all. When God commanded the Israelites to teach their offspring in the house, by the way side, at lying down and at rising up, think you he would have accepted as an excuse for neglect that they had no time? My friend Honestus, had he been of their number, would have found time; and his wife would have found more time than he. She does not contrive to render her household concerns so numerous and complicated that they consume her whole time and strength. Her arrangements are so simplified, that though she has a large family, she can not only give her children a great deal of useful information and a great many moral lessons while leisurely going on with her very labors, but she can also redeem, from her daily employments, half her waking hours for the noble and still more appropriate work of sitting, walking, reading, conversing and playing with them. And this every mother might do as well as the wife of Honestus, did she understand the importance and necessity of so doing, and were she more anxious to educate her children usefully than fashionably.

Honestus and his companion had one more habit which is exceedingly valuable, in the education of our children. The lessons, physical, intellectual or moral, which he inculcated by precept were sustained by example ; and what was begun in precept with the child, was extended or perfected elsewhere.

Thus, in the case to which I have just alluded, of a fine November morning, a sequel to the lesson which had been inculcated at rising was introduced at the breakfast table. By some means or other-I do not now recollect how the word, gabardine, was introduced. I happened to be present, but, though I was brought up with a dictionary before me, in which the first word under the letter G was gabardine, which, from early association, I most distinctly recollected as soon as the word was mentioned, I could not, for the life of me, attach any meaning to it; and there was not more than one or two at the table who could.

But, as I said before, the word was introduced, and we were resolved to become acquainted with it. So Honestus took his dictionary—which, by the way, he keeps always at hand--and though he was himself acquainted with the definition of the word, sought it out, and read it to the rest. It is a coarse

Importance of a Dictionary.

15

loose frock or upper garment; and a good substantial old English word it is.

To say nothing, however, of the value of the word itself, the course Honestus took secured several important advantages.

1. It proved to his children that he was in earnest, in his efforts to have them to acquire language, since it was a study which he was himself daily pursuing Children are imitative creatures. How often have I seen very young children, imitate in their plays, the employments of those around them, especially of those whom they love! How often, did I say? Left to themselves, they almost always do this. The little girl wants her doll-her babe, rather-her chairs, her table, her side board, her tea cups, her mirror, &c.; or perhaps, she receives company, or teaches school : and the little boy apes the employments of his father and others with nearly the same exactness. But surely I need not repeat what every one knows. And yet, where is the parent to be found, once in a hundred times, who makes the proper inference, and governs himself accordingly? Where are the father and mother who pursue the same course of conduct, in every thing, especially in morals, at table nd elsewhere in the family, which they require their children to pursue? Where is the parent-Honestus and a few like him excepted—who, in order to have a son fond of chemistry or geology, or language, first makes it one of the subjects of familiar conversation and experiment in the family? · 2. The practice of consulting a dictionary, and finding the correct definition of all words which we do not fully understand, is one of the very best means which can possibly be devised for enriching and extending a person's vocabulary; and the sooner children and other people are brought into it the better. I have known one man whose intelligence was quite above mediocrity for the region where he lived, who owed it entirely or almost entirely to this habit.

3. It leads to the habit of general observation. Nature, around us--the world—is a great dictionary, full of words of the most interesting and important meaning; and yet how few of us ever consult it? We may, indeed, and often do know that such or such a word stands in such or such a place, as I knew gabardine did ; but we might as well be ignorant on the subject, as to any practical purpose. We have eyes, but see not, and ears, but we hear not; neither do we understand what is going on before us.

Let me say again, I would not force the conversation of tbe family at table and elsewhere, upon important topics, till they become tired of it, or feel constraint; neither would I inculcate

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »