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Lectures and Tracts.
the bands of those who form the intellectual character, through all the most important of its stages; and who have it, as it were, at their option to brighten or overcast the prospects of each suc: cessive generation.
Some measures for facilitating the extensive reception of European works on the various departments of education, and of transferring to our systems of instruction whatever might seem valuable in them, would be another object of attention with the society, and would afford opportunity of effecting extensive and permanent good.
Till a regular seminary for the instruction of teachers shall have been established, one means of elevating the condition of common schools, would be secured by the employment of a proper person to deliver lectures, designed for the express purpose of communicating useful knowledge in various departments of science, selected with reference to the circumstances of a teacher's life and occupation. The results, probably, of such a measure would be the personal improvement of teachers themselves, the enlargement of their views on the subject of education,-a better perception of the important charge with which they are entrusted, and more practical and more skilful inethods of instruction. The effect, in a word, would be to rouse the minds of instructers from a state of apathy, or inaction from the drudgery of mechanical routine in their office-10 a lively interest in the improvement of the young, to vigorous personal efforts for raising the intellectual condition of the great body of the people to something more worthy of the noble sacrifices of their ancestors and of the happy auspices under which their country is pursuing its benignant career in meliorating the condition of man.
The preparing or selecting of useful tracts, adapted to the various classes of the community, would be a very effective means of increasing popular interest in the great subject of education. To accomplish any of its objects to a desirable extent, a society such as is proposed must succeed in producing an extensive impression in the community, that something ought to be done towards the great object in view,--and through those particular channels which to the society seem most eligible. In a word, the community must be prepared for a wide, and cordial, and efficient co-operation with all the movements of such a society. This result will, in all probability, be most easily attained by the dissemination of popular tracts, addressed to the community as such ; and at the same time to its various classes, with reference to their respective spheres of action and of influence. The learned professions, severally, ought to be appealed to-parents,
and especially mothers, who have so peculiar a control on education,
-teachers, and above all, youth themselves—the chief objects of all our solicitude. It may not be improper to observe here, that this class of the community, in England, is separately addressed in eight or ten different periodical works, devoted exclusively to the instruction and improvement of juvenile readers.* It is too true that hitherto the young have been led to education, under external influences, and that a deep personal desire for improvement has not been sufficiently cultivated in them, as the grand spring to application and acquisition. Education has not been sufficiently rendered a voluntary and spontaneous affair.
The peculiar office of the clergy, renders their efforts, in conjunction with those of a society of this sort, an object of earnest desire. That their exertions would be freely contributed, no one can doubt; and that their influence in promoting the objects of the society, would be peculiarly efficient, is equally evident. If, as is presumed will be the case, the aid of the clergy can be secured, without unreasonably encroaching on their time, the actual business of the society in all its attempts to disseminate information, or procure it for specific objects, would be vastly facilitated ; and indeed (the suggestion is respectfully made) the pulpit itself may contribute a powerful assistance, by occasionally turning public attention in definite directions to our duties as citizens and as christians, in regard to the wider dissemination and the higher improvement of education.
The appointment of a committee for each or at least some of the objects mentioned in this draught, as well as for others which might present themselves, in conversation and discussion, relative to such points, would probably, effect something definite and satisfactory within a very short time. At all events, it would bring before the society, and, through it, before the community generally, a vast amount of useful information, which would serve as a guide to subsequent measures calculated to promote improvement.
As the society would naturally expect all its influence to be exerted through the medium of public opinion, an occasional pamphlet or other publication, as the progress of the society seemed to afford materials, would probably be of service, not only in disseminating information relative to the proceedings of the society, but in elevating and directing general sentiment on the subject of education, and in contributing to increase the in
A few, do indeed, exist in this country, but they are restricted chiefly, to the object of religious improvoment.
Review of " My First School Book."
terest now so extensively felt on this topic; while much would also be done to aid instructors by suggesting a wider range of thought on their professional employment, and furnishing them, to some extent, with higher qualifications for their important duties.
In stating some of the leading objects which seem to claim the attention of such a society as is proposed; it is by no means desired that any measure should be adopted or pursued with a precipitate zeal, or in any way inconsistently with the high responsibilities under which such a society must lie to the interests and the judgment of the community.
A sketch, merely, has been given of what a society might attempt, in whatever way, and at whatever time, shall seem most advisable. And the ideas which have now been offered, will accomplish their chief objects, if they succeed in suggesting thoughts more adequate to the importance of such an undertaking.
FIRST READING LESSONS.
My First School Book, to teach me, with the help of my In
structor, to Read and Spell words and understand them. By A FRIEND OF MINE. Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1838. pp. 112.
For ourselves, we want no reading book or spelling book, nor indeed any book, to put into the hands of very young children. We would prefer—we have, indeed, long preferred—a combination of oral and slate lessons and lessons on objects, that supersedes the necessity of books, for a time. We would indeed have a library of our own at hand, but would use the books, at first, as mere works of reference. We would prepare the lessons on the slate, or teach the child to prepare them for himself. Afterward as he
older and had made some progress, we would introduce him, very gradually, to books and even to hard study.
But if first books must be used—as we suppose, taking teachers as they are and with the views they entertain, they must be for many years to come—we would by all means use · My First School Book.' It is exactly the thing the world has long wanted, and for which they are deeply indebted to Mr Bumstead, its worthy and ingenious author. We have already commended
the work in general terms; we now proceed to give a more particular description of it.
The first thing which strikes us, on examining the first pages of the little work before us, is the total absence, not only of any long, sage, philosophical introduction, but of any regularly arranged alphabet, or columns of easy syllables, such as have been found, time immemorial, in our best spelling books. The author of My First School Book,' has thus ingeniously exposed the folly of this ancient and almost venerable fashion, in the first paragraph of his preface.
• A little boy, who had been a long time plodding his dreary way through the alphabet, and had finally reached the columns of three-letter syllables, one morning, (the first snow of winter having fallen during the night,) on rising from his bed and looking out at the window, exclaimed with ecstasy, “Hurrah ! there's a sleigh! S-l-a, sleigh! s-l-a, sleigh!!”
"" John," said his father, " that doesn't spell sleigh."
Why, father! What is it in my book for?” 'In preparing this little work, it has been the intention to make it strictly a suitable book for children in their first efforts at learning to read and spell ; and to have it contain only what is, in some degree at least, intelligible and useful—only that concerning which a child, on making the inquiry, What is it in my book for? would at once receive, from a teacher or parent, a satisfactory answer.
'For this reason, there is here an exclusion of that chaotic mass of fragments of words, which it has been usual to present to the eyes and ears of children in their first exercises. Such lessons, it is believed, are as unnecessary as they are uninteresting. They convey no thought; they rather teach a child not to think.'
The following is the first lesson of My First School Book.' How different from the first page commonly presented to the pupil! How often have the poor pupils been discouraged by the long array of small letters, and capital letters, and double letters, with their unintelligible pronunciation, and arranged in 80 many long columns, and crowded into the first page of a spelling book. It is like pressing at once upon the eye and mind of the tyro in Arithmetic, all the mysteries of Algebra-its characters, processes, &c. Whereas, the lesson which follows, includes but three words, and these words but ten letters. The words are thus variously and ingeniously transposed; though presented in much larger type, and without capitals.
The second lesson, occupying a page, consists of the same three words, with the words head, nose and eye, variously placed ; the third consists of the words jump, quick and lazy, transposed as before ; and the fourth of all the nine preceding, with the addition of one, two, three, four, five and six.
The author leaves to the ingenuity of the teacher the manner of using the book, though in his preface, he modestly suggests the following hints to young teachers.
• The teacher, after saying a pleasant word or two about the book, turns to the 7th page, and pointing to the word man, says, “Do you see that? It is a word. I can read it. Now hear me read it: man. [or Do not name the letters, only the word.
• There is another word under it. Hear me read that: boy. And there is another : girl. I have read three words—man, boy, girl. I wonder if you can read thein too. You may see if you can. Here let the teacher point, while the scholar pronounces. If he tries, and especially if he succeeds, encourage him. A little kind encouragement, in these first steps, has a wonderful effect. Let himn read the same words as they are repeated on the same page, which will be enough for the first lesson.
His next may be a review of the first, with such addition as his capacity and interest will warrant. And so with succeeding lessons, keeping in mind the rule, slow and sure ; and that repetition must be continued, until perfection is acquired. The scholar may learn the whole fifteen different words on pages 7-10, before any thing is said to him about the letters; or, if the teacher prefers, he may begin with the letters earlier.
All that is insisted upon is, that the learning of the word should precede that of the letters; and for this plain reason, it