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is the natural order, and therefore must be incomparably easier than the reverse.
· Throughout the whole book, then, let it be an invariable rule to have the attention of the child first directed to the whole word. LET THE FIRST EXERCISE, WITH EVERY NEW PAGE, BE, THE READING OR PRONOUNCING OF THE WORDS. And never require a scholar to spell a word before he has so far learned it as to be able to read it. Tell him the pronunciation over and over again, if necessary, until he remembers it; but never waste time in requiring him to spell a word in order to find out its pronuncia
• The first fifteen words contain the whole alphabet in small letter. The capitals need be learned only as they are met with in the course of the book.'
The principle of teaching the child to read words before he knows the names of the letters, is an important principle, but not a new one. Parkhurst and Gallaudet and many others have inculcated it.
The following remarks on the methods of teaching spelling, taken, also, from Mr Bumstead's preface, are important; but the principles which they involve are well known.
• There are two ways of spelling—one that is apprehended by the ear, and the other by the eye. The former is the ordinary, and, to a great extent, the exclusive method in primary schools. Whatever advantages it may possess, it is doubtless wanting in practical character. It trains the ear, and not the eye ; and therefore is deceptive to those who suppose than an ability to utter the names of the letters of a word, necessarily secures practical spelling, or an ability to place the forms of those letters in proper combination on paper. The latter method, on the contrary, is entirely practical. It is, in fact, the spelling of every-day life. And such is its superiority to the other, it may be safely affirmed, that a dozen words written from memory or dictation on a slate, is a more profitable exercise than the mere vocal spelling of fifty words.
· Here it will be objected, that children, at so early an age, cannot write. But this is a mistake.
At any rate, they can be taught to make some legible marks in imitation of the printed letter; and this, too, with much pleasure on their part, and little
* Spelling, as commonly practised in schools, is of no assistance whatever in the way of pronunciation, inasmuch as the names of the letters of a word, are, in general, totally different from its elementary sounds. Directing a child whu stuinbles in pronouncing a word, to spell it in the usual way, is only increasing his embarrassment. If oral spelling consisted, as it should, in utiering the elementary sounds, the case would be different.
trouble on the part of the teacher. Experience has proved that all the various characters of our English Alphabet can be made, on slates, by these young learners. True, they will be, at first, ill-favored, and almost illegible ; but encouragement and practice will every day improve them. This method of spelling, therefore, is believed to be indispensable, partially at least, to all those who would be sure of making their scholars good spellers.
We come now to what is believed to be the most striking peculiarity and the most important improvement of the work. It is the arrangement of the words in natural classes, instead of grouping them together in an arbitrary manner. This is indeed, its leading principle. The first idea of the superiority of this method we owe to the Rev. Mr Gallaudet, of Hartford"; and convinced of its excellence, we had long ago begun a work not unlike the one before us. Mr B.'s labors will, however, prevent the necessity of any farther effort on our own part, at least for the present.
The following are the remarks of the author of My First School Book,' on this peculiarity of the work he has prepared.
. Children are delighted with ideas; and in school exercises, if no where else, they are disgusted with their absence. The present selection of words has been made with reference to this fact; and it is hoped that no one can be found which is not, partially at least, intelligible to the young scholar, or capable of being made so. No regard whatever has been paid to length, or to the popular opinion that a word is easy because it is short. This is a great error. A word is not easy to read and spell simply because it is short ; nor difficult, because it is long: it is easy or difficult, chiefly, as it expresses an idea easy or difficult of comprehension.
• It will be perceived, that the main point in the arrangement of the columns, has been the sense, and not in any degree the sound. The words are collected in families, according as the objects or actions they represent have a connection with each other. This arrangement is novel, and, it is thought, has the advantage of making columns of words interesting and intelligible.'
Here is a specimen of Mr B.'s families of words. It is his fifth lesson. Thus we find not only the easy monosyllable hand, but next below it the dissyllable finger; and not far from it the difficult word knuckle; all of which, as well as those of the whole lesson-thirty in number—belong to the same family ; being obvious parts of the human body.
Mr B.'s Seventh Lesson.
The sixth lesson is extended so as to include not only the words of the preceding fifth lesson, but also fortytwo more of the same class or family. It has also the following caption or motto: • How many things have we about us? Where is each one, and what is it for?' The seventh lesson is the following; and is headed, We are not all alike.'
This arrangement of words involves one important principle to which the author has not, so far as we perceive, laid claim. It begins at home; teaching the child, so far as these early lessons have
any influence of the kind-to observe his own frame. It gives him, in short, an introduction to physiology. At least it gives the teacher important hints; and no person who understands anatomy and physiology, would be likely to neglect them. What teacher, for example, who is teaching a child to read and spell the words eyes, eyebrow, eyelid, eyelash, &c., would fail to tell him something of their curious structure and uses? And so of the words teeth, tongue, throat, spine, marrow, pulse, knee pan, &c.
It is, moreover, curious to see a first book for children stripped Further Remarks by the Author.
of the common array of figures and capitals, marks for accent, &c., and to see the words undivided into syllables, just as they should be, and just as they appear in ordinary reading. There is no rational reason, we are confident, for dividing the syllables, in our spelling books.
On this topic, as well as several others, the author of 'My First School Book,' has the following excellent remarks, with which we close our extracts.
• A word in regard to pronunciation. A mumbling, indistinct articulation, besides being bad in itself, is the cause of much bad spelling. Insist, therefore, upon that which is (as far as good taste will permit) distinct, sharp-struck and square-edged, so that the syllables and letters will appear at once to the mind. Vociferation, however, with the strained, unnatural pitch of voice sometimes practised in schools, will not answer. This is entirely unfavorable to good articulation.
• This book takes it for granted, that the teacher is accomplished in regard to pronunciation; and is able to teach this, and some other things, in a practical manner, vica voce—the only way in which a child can learn them. Arbitrary rules, marks, divisions, &c., although they may be very beneficial to an ignorant teacher, are nothing but a perplexity and injury to the young scholar.
• The absence of pictures among the lessons is owing to the fact, that many experienced teachers have expressed an opinion, that, in books for the earliest instruction of children, they are rather a hindrance than a help, diverting the eye from that which should receive undivided attention. Every word should be a living picture.
Although the sentences are placed entirely after the columns, it is not intended to have the child proceed according to this arrangement. After he is able to master a few pages of columns, he may commence with the stories, &c., in the second part, and thenceforward have the variety of alternation every day.'
We scarcely need to add that he who would understand fully the character of the work, must procure and examine it for himself; and this can be done by any individual for the small sum of fifteen cents and a few leisure hours. It is not a task to which only the learned few are equal; it is quite a common sense affair, and we believe will approve itself to the plain common sense of the community.
Necessity of the Living Voice.
IMPORTANCE OF DEFINING IN COMMON SCHOOLS.
We have dwelt the longer on this topic because it seems to us to be one of great and fundamental importance. The fact is, we may teach all things--that is, furnish the keys to a knowledge of all things—through this medium; or, if we choose to do so, we may neglect this subject, and thus leave every thing untaught. Children may study forever, and recite lessons forever, and with mathematical correctness too; and yet, if there are no conversational exercises in defining, in the spirit of those mentioned in our two former numbers, they never will have much real practical knowledge. They may indeed be parrots, but they neyer will become men. In short, it is scarcely too much to say that our real knowledge in life will ever beara pretty exact proportion to the amount of time which has been expended on us in early life, by parents or teachers, in the invaluable exercise of defining.
Books there indeed must be ; study there must be; it must be hard study too : nor have we any serious objections to occasional recitations, even in the old dry
But it will not do to rely wholly on any of these, or on all of them united. Without the living voice, in familiar conversation, explanation and illustration, they are almost powerless. Hence it is easy to see how a community may abound with learned men, and
be destitute of wise men. But it is not mere knowledge--dry science-for the accumumulation of which conversational and defining exercises are so valuable. Here, too, we may lay the foundation of all morality; so far we mean as morality can be taught. We believe, in fact, that this is the only way in which the inculcation of morality and religion can be made every day things, instead of being regarded as they have hitherto been, to a most lamentable extent–in the light of a Sunday or holiday dress, convenient for occasional purposes, but to be laid aside when those occasional purposes have been fully subserved.
We might also say, in addition to all this, that there is a great deal of elementary knowledge on what are called the common concerns of life, which in the usual course of things never will be taught except in this way; knowledge, too, for want of which as we have already more than hinted, some very learned men seem to the mass of mankind as little better than fools or pedants.
One species of this sort of knowledge is a clear and correct eye-measure. Nothing but familiar practical exercises will ever enable the young to judge with sufficient accuracy of height,