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Letter from a Teacher.
Our feet, no doubt, would be more comfortable, easy and useful, if we were not at the greatest pains to deprive them of their elasticity and vigor. The numerous nerves, crossing the feet in every direction, plainly evince that nature has endowed them with peculiar powers of which we can scarcely form an adequate conception. The untutored Indian or the wild African, excels not only the enlightened European, but likewise the lower animals in running, leaping, and in short in swiftness and agility of every kind where muscular motion is required. Either of them would heartily laugh at us that we are obliged to employ professional operators for extracting corns, and to contrive ointments and plasters for the cure of these evils, which we have wantonly brought on ourselves.
"A convenient shoe ought to be somewhat round, at the toes, sufficiently long, with thick soles, and the leather soft and pliable. If it be deficient in any of these requisites, the skin will be rendered callous; the perspiration indispensable to these parts will be stopped ; warts and corns will be found in numbers; the nails grow into the flesh; and various complicated maladies will be produced, which not only affect the feet but the whole body. Besides these more serious consequences, a person walking with narrow shoes will be much sooner and more sensibly fatigued, than he whose shoes are sufficiently wide and easy.'
In another place, the same author says: "The soles of the shoes ought to sufficiently broad, especially under the toes. If for instance, the greatest breadth of the foot be four inches, the shoe should be four and a half inches broad. What will some of our sapient critics of modern days say to the Doctor's want of 'good taste?'
We have received, from the Principal of one of our Teachers' Seminaries, the following letter, bearing date May 4, 1838. The subject is one of considerable importance; and we solicit the particular attention of all those whom it concerns.
"I have been a reader of the Annals for several years, but do not recollect that you have any where remarked at length on the subject of Keys to elementary school books, “prepared for the use of teuchers only."
* These helps have now become exceedingly common, and I
The Editor's Reply.
wish the question might be fairly settled whether they are really a benefit or an injury to our schools. My situation has frequently brought me into contact with them, and so far as my own experience has gone, I can say that I have had as frequent occasion to regret most heartily that any such helps were ever provided. It is often said, and even printed, that the keys will be sold only to teachers ; but I believe the booksellers do not generally make conscience of this matter; and sure I am that with a class of pupils to be found in almost every school, there is not wanting the disposition to make a clandestine use of an article 80 convenient and so easily obtained.
• The injurious effect to the pupil, of using the key, is obvious to every one; and has been well compared to the offer of a ride to a man who is walking for exercise. But are there no evils connected with the teacher's using the key? Does is not encourage habits of indolence? Does it not make him mechanical, and sometimes superficial in his explanations, in consequence of his own imperfect comprehension of the subject? And is he not in danger of losing the confidence and respect of his pupils, by requiring them to go forward independently, while their teacher is hobbling on crutches?'
We have never had but one opinion on this subject; and if that opinion has not been expressed in the Annals, it is owing to one of the two following reasons, viz : because it is impossible to treat of a thousand important topics, all at once, or because the case seemed so plain that it never occurred to us there was a necessity of saying any thing about it.
We believe that a few ignorant, but truly inquiring teachers, might be slightly benefited in their studies at home, by these keys; and that a few others, where they have the charge of very large schools, might possibly derive some temporary advantages from their use. But as a general rule, and as our correspondent has more than intimated in his inquiries, we cannot for a moment doubt that they encourage "habits of indolence' in the teacher, render him mechanical and superficial in his explanations, and rob him, in some degree at least, of the confidence of his pupils ; and that, in short, they are as ruinous to teachers, as a general fact, as to their pupils.
Our correspondent will receive our thanks for affording us so good an opportunity for giving our testimony on this subject, before the evil in question—if it is shown to be an evil-has infected any more of our schools. It is high time this and a thousand other questions of great practical importance in rela
Amusements for the Sedentary.
tion to our schools were settled; and if our own opinion or remarks should be of any service-either in the present instance or any other—we shall rejoice that the ' Annals ? has given us an opportunity of presenting them.
ARE GAMES OF CONTRIVANCE INJURIOUS ?
From the very same individual from whom we received the foregoing letter in regard to the use of Keys, we received, a few days later, the following.
You will pardon me for troubling you again so soon. anxious to learn your sentiments on another subject intimately connected with the education of youth.
* I have just been looking over the “Young Man's Guide," and find that in your remarks on the subject of gaming, you have made no distinction between games of chance and games of contrivance. Whether you think there is really no essential difference in their moral tendency or not, I cannot decide from any thing I have seen in your writings.
• Chess, Drafts, and other games of calculation are encouraged and even taught, as I understand, in the Moral Reform School, at South Boston ; and I am personally acquainted with a number of teachers and ministers who encourage playing chess among their pupils and children.
Now if the moral tendency of such pastimes is bad, christian teachers and parents ought certainly to be warned against encouraging them; and if their tendency is not immoral, their efforts should be made to do away the prejudice which is so prevalent against them.'
We cannot conceive of any solid advantages likely to be derived from playing at games of calculation or contrivance, of any sort, especially in the case of pupils or students at school. if they are designed as a species of mental discipline, we think they are far inferior in this respect to several branches of the mathematics, if not to most of the natural sciences. If they are designed as amusements, merely, they seem to fail most effectually, of securing the end for whịch they were intended. The student and the sedentary need active exercise in the open air. How can it relieve the mind-much more the body-to sit down and play at chess, morrice, &c.! To the individual, young or old, who had been active all day, in the open air, and whose
Letter from a Physician.
mind had been little employed, these sports might do better ; but they are among the last we should choose for our pupils.
Grant that they are a relief, after severe study. So is one hard study a relief from the pain induced by another. So the gold headed cane, which, in the story related by Miss Edgeworth, the father gave to his little boy, when fatigued with walking, was a great relief to his weary limbs, and helped him on in his journey. And yet, in all these instances, there is room for much deception in regard to consequences. The temporary relief which is afforded, seems to us more than counterbalanced by the subsequent debility. We are much in favor of recreations; but they should be philosophical, or at least natural.
Still if any thing of the kind were to be admitted, as is said to be the case at South Boston, we should prefer such as may more properly be regarded games of contrivance, to those of mere chance. If nothing were left us but a choice of evils, it would be folly not to choose the least. But it would be greater folly still to choose either, if both could possibly and easily be avoided.
EDUCATION OF BOYS.
Though we have no reason to think the following letter was intended for the public eye, yet believing its author would not object to its insertion in this work, and that it would interest those who saw our number for January, we have taken a liberty, for once, to which we are not accustomed. The letter is dated at Newburgh, Feb. 21st.
Dear Sir: Having seen the mention of my establishment, for the education of boys, in your excellent periodical, and being pleased that our views on education coincide in so great a degree, and aware that
you have no knowledge of me or my family, but simply from the advertisement copied from the New York Observer, I am induced to give you a brief history of its rise; and as you have named the advantages that seem to flow from the adoption of such a plan, you will permit me to follow you a little in the mention of them.
It was not till I had practised my medical profession nearly twenty years,—a part of the time in one of our southern cities, and a part in this village-that the idea of devoting myself to the education of youth, first presented itself to my mind. In search
of some plan by which to proceed in the prosecution of this design, none seemed sufficiently feasible to invite adoption, but that of the ordinary boarding school; and this was so fraught with objections, as to force me to the adoption of the one now in prosecution. A strong desire to be devoted to the purposes of education, a hope that I might advance the interests of my pupils, and the expectation that a fair pecuniary compensation would follow my exertions, were at that time the amount of my reflections.
On the subject of education I had not then studied ; nor did 1, immediately : but when the boarding school plan presented itself to me, it was easy to see that its adoption would devolve on me the important offices of both father and teacher, with all the responsibility and irritations. These I feared ; and I accordingly determined on the adoption of a family, to which I would • endeavor to perform all, and only the duties of a father, devoted solely to that object.
Three important points seem to you to be gained by this method ; viz : 'that the pupils have two instructors; that they are under the co-operative influence of both home and school; and that they have the instruction of a medical gentleman.' The last seeins to you to be the important benefit gained in such an establishment.
Now ile I agree with you, perfectly, that all circumstances and qualifications alike, the physician, by the practice of his profession-seeing the human character in greater extent and diversity-habitually judging of the mutual operation of the body and mind, and continually engaged in devising the best means for the management and improvement of both, must necessarily be well fitted to guide the moral, intellectual and physical education of youth-still I am of the impression that the most important point to be gained is contained in what you have will called the rare privilege of being under the co-operative influence of both house and school.
These, to my mind, have been mixed ; so mixed, that much of the education of our country has been carried on almost without the influence of either. It is in separating these and giving as it were, to each its own instructor-it is in removing school, and allowing the house to exert its own proper a d unmixed influrnce, enabling me to direct my whole energies to the education of my family, almost without the introduction of books a d schools - it is in systeinatizing and perfecting, in some degree, the inestimable model school,' or "fainily state, so deserved ly admired, that the excellence of this establishment will be found.