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422

Method of Teaching Writing. stance; and sometimes, if the pupil was an unapt scholar, to read it over for him several times.

I did not find this method of reading so irksome to the pupils as I had expected. It is well known how fond children are of novelties; and so novel was our reading, that, for a few days it went off very well. But the pupils at length grew tired of it; and I found it necessary to resort, occasionally, to the old method. They probably found, in this, the appearance of progress. To stand still, as it were, at a single place in the book, for several minutes, seemed less to them like making improvement, than when they were reading off several pages at a single lesson.

But our lessons were, in any event, short. I had got over, in some measure, the notion that the pupil's improvement was in proportion to the space ran over. Sometimes, indeed, a large class read several pages at a time; but not usually. As a substitute for so much matter-of-course reading, I used to explain and illustrate things as we went on; and sometimes even relate stories.

Writing, instead of being pursued at all hours of the day, and under all circumstances, was confined entirely to the last half hour of the forenoon, and of the afternoon. This was allowing 10 each pupil an hour a day for the study of this art.

This plan, in regard to writing, is excellent. I know of but one objection which can be brought against it. It is that many boys in the winter, will, in this way, lose at least half their writing. Their parents and masters are accustomed to permit and even require them to leave the school at a certain time—frequently an hour before the exercises close.

But to this it may be replied, that in leaving school thus early, some lesson or other must be lost; and most pupils can better lose the writing lesson than any other.

The suggestion, to teach writing at these hours and in this manner, I believe I first learned from Hall's Lectures on School Keeping; an admirable work, which no teacher ought, in my opinion, to neglect.

In grammar and geography little was done; but that little was performed in a rational and intelligible manner. It was not a mere recitation of words. The pupil was brought to feel that there was meaning in language; and that there should be thoughts connected with it. In these branches, too, all our lessons were short.

Arithmetic was studied by a few, but not very thorough on account of a seeming want of time. I had not yet come fully up to the belief-practically—that what is worth doing at all, in a school as well as elsewhere, is worth doing well; and that it Exercise in

Thinking.

423

is far better that an exercise should be attended to but once a day, or even once a week, than that it should not be understood. I still clung more or less—at times and in certain thingsto the notion that there must be, every day, such a certain number of exercises ; that the pupils must read round, as it is called, twice in the forenoon, and twice in the afternoon ; and that there must be writing, and arithmetic, and grammar, and geography, and every thing else going on, at least once in each half day.

Or rather, as perhaps I ought to say, I had not moral courage enough to innovate, in this respect, upon long established usages. Besides I felt, as I ought to have felt, that all improvement must from the nature of the case be gradual.

There can be but two advantages in 'going round twice,' in each half day, with the reading and spelling exercises of our district schools. The first is, that it prevents ignorant teachers from imposing as long lessons upon pupils as otherwise they would ; the second, that it breaks in upon the disagreeable monotony which might otherwise prevail, and which commonly does prevail in the best schools.

But were every child furnished with pleasant employment, and with suitable seasons for exercise in the open air, the second class exercise might far better be spared. Let there be but one exercise in each class in half a day; and let that be thoroughly attended to. I am here speaking of spelling, reading, and writing. As to arithmetic, grammar and geography, it is enough that they come once a day.

Our religious instruction consisted merely in repeating portions of the “shorter catechism," at the close of the week. An example of daily prayer was indeed set, and the older classes read in the New Testament as a regular exercise; and I was accustomed to moralize on daily occurrences. This last is probably the most effectual way of religious teaching in our district schools ; as it is, first, most agreeable to the pupils; secondly, least likely to awaken any where sectarian jealousy ; thirdly, most effectual in reaching the heart; and lastly, the impressions are the most permanent.

One exercise was introduced into this school, which was altogether of my own invention. It was a sort of silent or thinking exercise. After the school had been opened a short time in the morning, and my oldest or first class had read a Testament lesson, they were required to devote a certain number of minutes, usually from five to ten, to reflection. No scholar might attend to business of any kind whatever, during the time; but all were required to observe the most perfect silence.

422

Method of Teaching Writing. stance; and sometimes, if the pupil was an unapt scholar, to read it over for him several times.

I did not find this method of reading so irksome to the pupils as I had expected. It is well known how fond children are of novelties ; and so novel was our reading, that, for a few days it went off very well. But the pupils at length grew tired of it; and I found it necessary to resort, occasionally, to the old method. They probably found, in this, the appearance of progress. To stand still, as it were, at a single place in the book, for several minutes, seemed less to them like making improvement, than when they were reading off several pages at a single lesson.

But our lessons were, in any event, short. I had got over, in some measure, the notion that the pupil's improvement was in proportion to the space ran over. Sometimes, indeed, a large class read several pages at a time; but not usually. As a substitute for so much matter-of-course reading, I used to explain and illustrate things as we went on ; and sometimes even relate stories.

Writing, instead of being pursued at all hours of the day, and under all circumstances, was confined entirely to the last half hour of the forenoon, and of the afternoon. This was allowing 10 each pupil an hour a day for the study of this art.

This plan, in regard to writing, is excellent. I know of but one objection which can be brought against it. It is that many boys in the winter, will, in this way, lose at least half their writing. Their parents and masters are accustomed to permit and even require them to leave the school at a certain time-frequently an hour before the exercises close.

But to this it may be replied, that in leaving school thus early, some lesson or other must be lost; and most pupils can better lose the writing lesson than any other.

The suggestion, to teach writing at these hours and in this manner, I believe I first learned from Hall's Lectures on School Keeping; an admirable work, which no teacher ought, in my opinion, to neglect.

In grammar and geography little was done; but that little was performed in a rational and intelligible manner. It was not a mere recitation of words. The pupil was brought to feel that there was meaning in language ; and that there should be thoughts connected with it. In these branches, too, all our lessons were short.

Arithmetic was studied by a few, but not very thorough on account of a seeming want of time. I had not yet come fully up to the belief-practically—that what is worth doing at all, in a school as well as elsewhere, is worth doing well; and that it Exercise in

Thinking.

423

is far better that an exercise should be attended to but once a day, or even once a week, than that it should not be understood. I still clung more or less—at times and in certain things— to the notion that there must be, every day, such a certain number of exercises ; that the pupils must read round,' as it is called, twice in the forenoon, and twice in the afternoon; and that there must be writing, and arithmetic, and grammar, and geography, and every thing else going on, at least once in each half day.

Or rather, as perhaps I ought to say, I had not moral courage enough to innovate, in this respect, upon long established usages. Besides I felt, as I ought to have felt, that all improvement must from the nature of the case be gradual.

There can be but two advantages in going round twice,' in each half day, with the reading and spelling exercises of our district schools. The first is, that it prevents ignorant teachers from imposing as long lessons upon pupils as otherwise they would ; the second, that it breaks in upon the disagreeable monotony which might otherwise prevail, and which commonly does prevail in the best schools.

But were every child furnished with pleasant employment, and with suitable seasons for exercise in the open air, the second class exercise might far better be spared. Let there be but one exercise in each class in half a day; and let that be thoroughly attended to. I am here speaking of spelling, reading, and writing. As to arithmetic, grammar and geography, it is enough that they come once a day.

Our religious instruction consisted merely in repeating portions of the “ shorter catechism,” at the close of the week. An example of daily prayer was indeed set, and the older classes read in the New Testament as a regular exercise; and I was accustomed to moralize on daily occurrences. This last is probably the most effectual way of religious teaching in our district schools; as it is, first, most agreeable to the pupils ; secondly, least likely to awaken any where sectarian jealousy ; thirdly, most effectual in reaching the heart; and lastly, the impressions are the most permanent.

One exercise was introduced into this school, which was altogether of my own invention. It was a sort of silent or thinking exercise. After the school had been opened a short time in the morning, and my oldest or first class had read a Testament lesson, they were required to devote a certain number of minutes, usually from five to ten, to reflection. No scholar might attend to business of any kind whatever, during the time ; but all were required to observe the most perfect silence.

422 Method of Teaching Writing. stance; and sometimes, if the pupil was an unapt scholar, to read it over for him several times.

I did not find this method of reading so irksome to the pupils as I had expected. It is well known how fond children are of novelties ; and so novel was our reading, that, for a few days it went off very well. But the pupils at length grew tired of it; and I found it necessary to resort, occasionally, to the old method. They probably found, in this, the appearance of progress. To stand still, as it were, at a single place in the book, for several minutes, seemed less to them like making improvement, than when they were reading off several pages at a single lesson.

But our lessons were, in any event, short. I had got over, in some measure, the notion that the pupil's improvement was in proportion to the space ran over. Sometimes, indeed, a large class read several pages at a time; but not usually. As a substitute for so much matter-of-course reading, I used to explain and illustrate things as we went on; and sometimes even relate stories.

Writing, instead of being pursued at all hours of the day, and under all circumstances, was confined entirely to the last half hour of the forenoon, and of the afternoon. This was allowing 10 each pupil an hour a day for the study of this art.

This plan, in regard to writing, is excellent. I know of but one objection which can be brought against it. It is that many boys in the winter, will, in this way, lose at least half their writing. Their parents and masters are accustomed to permit and even require them to leave the school at a certain time—frequently an hour before the exercises close.

But to this it may be replied, that in leaving school thus early, some lesson or other must be lost; and most pupils can better lose the writing lesson than any other.

The suggestion, to teach writing at these hours and in this manner, I believe I first learned from Hall's Lectures on School Keeping; an admirable work, which no teacher ought, in my opinion, to neglect.

In grammar and geography little was done; but that little was performed in a rational and intelligible manner. It was not a mere recitation of words. The pupil was brought to feel that there was meaning in language ; and that there should be thoughts connected with it. In these branches, too, all our lessons were short.

Arithmetic was studied by a few, but not very thorough on account of a seeming want of time. I had not yet come fully up to the belief-practically—that what is worth doing at all, in a school as well as elsewhere, is worth doing well; and that it

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