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history at all; that they will become sufficiently familiar with it by reading. Study, they say, gives them a distaste for it. In his opinion, no study was more important. He would have the words of the text book learned verbatim. He learned by question and answer, and derived no benefit whatever from it. It is impossible to make any practical distinction between a perfect lesson and a failure. He thought it better, therefore, to memorize the whole, and thus insure a perfect recitation. The scholar should then be questioned closely, and in every possible manner. He often put questions in the most obscure manner, to test their knowledge. History should be taught in connection with Geography and Chronology. He required his scholars to draw naps in illustration of their lessons. He would have every date committed to memory. He would also teach them different theories of government. The philosophy of history should also be taught. They should be taught to search for the motives which lead to different actions, as, for instance, those of Washington in saving his country, of Arnold in betraying it, and of the French in lending us their assistance.
Mr. Hagar, of Salem, said that he had given but comparatively little attention to llistory. He did not, however, agree, in all points with the last speaker. He did not believe in memorizing the words of the text book. He thought the prin cipal reason why children so often disliked the study was, that they were obliged to go through so much drudgery in learning it. He thought, in general, a very small amount of History was learned, for the time spent upon it. If the time were devoted to learning the main facts instead of the minutiæ, much more might be accomplished. The scholars, too, would be far more interested. · In teaching History we should remember that, at least a very small amount can be learned at school. By far the greater part must be acquired after leaving. We should teach therefore, as far as possible, in accordance with the method which the pupils must employ in after life ; so that the work of learning then will be but a continuation of that begun at school. Suppose those present, following the plan often adopted by teachers, should try to study Macaulay's History by committing the text to memory, learning a page or two daily. Perhaps, in the course of a generation we might" get through” the book, when we should probably find that we had forgotten the first part. No one would think of pursuing such a course. Why, then, should we follow in school, a method at which our common sense revolts in mature years ? Suppose a child, having read the daily paper, should be asked the news, and should declare himself unable to tell it by reason of not having committed the words of the paper to memory. Now His. tory is a statement of facts. If, therefore, the main facts contained in a newspaper can be remembered and stated, without memorizing the words, why not those in History? He would not spend much time in learning dates. It was forcing scholars to live on the bones of History, when they might have the meat. Only the more prominent dates should be learned. If they were all committed, very few would be retained at the end of five years. Events should be grouped, and the scholars would then learn much by association.
Mr. Payson, of Chelsea, said that his own custom was to arrange the more important dates chronologically, and have them copied by the scholars. He
then took up Worcester's History in order, and wrote out a series of topics which he gave as lessons. Each scholar was then required to learn all he could about it from any source. In recitation, each one was required to state clearly what he had learned. There being a great diversity in their sources of information, a great deal of useful knowledge was thus made available to the whole class. Mr. P. tben illustrated by an incident, the fact that scholars often committed lessons to memory without thoroughly understanding them. He once asked a boy to give an account of the battle of Brandywine, which he did with great readiness, in the words of the book. On being asked where Brandywine was situated, he confessed his entire ignorance. He had learned only the words of the lesson, and such was the tendency of the memorizing system. He then related another incident, to show that valuable facts were sometimes elicited by inciting scholars to investigate for themselves. A question was raised during a recitation in his school, in regard to a point upon which it is very difficult to obtain information. The scbolars were requested to ascertain, if possible, the facts. The next morning a satisfactory answer was given by one of the boys who chanced to have access to an unusual source of information.
Mr. LITTLEFIELD, of Somerville, said that, as we advance in life, our early opinions are continually modified by experience. lle bad held, at the outset, many opinions which he now saw to be erroneous. Among them was one against memorizing the words of the text book. He now thought this the only way of insuring thorough work. He once studied under a noted teacher, who used to teach almost entirely by lecturing. The result was, that, although they had a very pleasant time during the recitation, the information gained was vague and desultory. He went through the Political Class Book in this manner, and the only portion of it which he remembered was the Grand Juror's oath. His own custom was, to require bis scholars to commit the text. He bad pupils who would commit a page in ten minutes. He thought his friend (Mr. Hagar) having spent most of his life in teaching the more advanced scholars, hardly appreciated the difficulties of Grammar School teachers. We are required so to teach our scholars that they will answer seventy-five per cent of questions promiscuously put by the Committee. He thought this result could not be obtained without committing the words to memory. He thought it possible to have dates so committed that they would be permanently remembered. The trouble is, we do not recur to them often enough. By constant repetition they will become a part of the mind. He had the principal dates and events written upon cards and often drilled his scholars upon them. Memorizing was also valuable for the discipline gained from it. The idea is too prevalent that scholars are to be amused and entertained. It was a milk-and-water philosophy with which he had no sympathy. He thought the discipline of the powers a far more important
а object than the mere acquisition of facts, and be did not believe discipline could be acquired in any such way. He lid not find, in bis own experience, that scholars thought History a dry study. He thought they generally liked the idea of committing lessons to memory. Many teachers object to the use of written questions. He did not object to a good question merely because it happened to be printed. He did not suppose that any good teacher would content himself with simply hearing scholars repeat the words of the lesson, without making sure that they understood them. He thought, too, that scholars generally understood what they committed to memory. The cases, sometimes given, in which they did not, were, he thought, rare exceptions.
Mr. METCALF, of Boston, (Adams School,) differed from Mr. Littlefield in regard to the frequency of the kind of instances just referred to. He considered them not at all exceptional, but very common. At a recent teachers' meeting, an anecdote was related of a class who were asked to define Geography. They gave the usual answer, “ a description of the surface of the earth.” But, on being asked how many of them had seen the surface of the earth, the question passed to the fifth boy before one was found who bad done so. On being asked where he had seen it, he answered, “ in Boston." After that meeting he went to his own school and put the same question to one of the best taught classes in his school. Out of a large class he found but five or six who returned affirmative answers; and, on questioning one of them as to where he had seen it, he replied,
on the map.” We should often be astonished, if we took pains to ascertain the facts, at the ignorance of even good scholars in such matters. We are always prone to suppose they know more than they actually do know. Our aim should be so to interest our scholars that they will voluntarily continue the study after leaving school. A very prevalent cause of failure in interesting scholars, is a want of sufficient preparation in the teacher. He should not be confined in his preparation, to the limits of the text book. He should learn all he could upon the subject of the lesson from every source. How many teachers, before beginning to teach the history of North America, would consider it necessary to read carefully a good biography of Columbus ? and yet one could hardly teach the history of North America thoroughly without it. What proportion of our teachers spend, habitually, an hour each day in preparing for recitation ? A teacher should always be prepared to bring forward many facts and illustrations which are not familiar to the scholars. In this way an intense interest is often created. Recitations are often dull and uninteresting simply because the teacher is not half prepared. In plain English, laziness was, in many cases, the great obstacle to success. Children always like those studies best that they are well taught in, and they cannot be well taught unless the teacher thoroughly understands his subject. Many Histories, especially Worcester's, contain too large an amount of valueless statistics. Such books should not be followed implicitly. For instance Worcester's history of the War of 1812 contains many statistics of no value. To force a scholar to commit such an account verbatim was mere waste of time.
Mr. LITTLEFIELD said that he would not spend the whole recitation in talking. He preferred to have the scholars do it. They would doubtless like better to have all the work done by the teacher, but would derive far less benefit from the recitation. He had sometimes attended the Medical School, where the teaching was entirely oral. · When the lecture was finished it was customary for the Professor to invite all those who desired to be questioned, to take the front seat. He had always noticed, however, that but very few seemed to have any such
desire. So it was in school. Most scholars will, unless forced to do otherwise, choose the easiest method of getting through their lessons. It was impossible, however, that such a method should educate them as thoroughly as one which required them to labor themselves.
Mr. SHELDON, of Boston, (Hancock School), said that he believed in using a little of each method. A really good book might sometimes be committed to memory for the sake of getting the language. He did not, however, by any means, believe in committing the whole of Worcester's History. In fact be considered it absolutely wicked to force a scholar to do any such thing. He had himself, made a History out of Worcester's, from which he taught his scholars. The main facts of History should be brought forward separately as topics, and the connection between them carefully pointed out. History is a growth, and this fact should be carefully impressed upon the scholars. English History should first be taught, and then American History as an outgrowth of English. The reading of the scholars should be looked after, and care taken that they have access to good books. He recommended particularly a book called the Victoria History of England. It was astonishing how much children would learn in this way if an opportunity was afforded them. He likened History to a chain. We must not only possess the links, but must have them joined together if we would use it. He would much rather a scholar would understand the bearings of an event, than be able to tell its exact date. Ten lessons given in the manner he had suggested, were better than forty committed to memory from Worcester's History. Still, if his friend Mr. Littlefield should come into his school and ask the printed questions from the book, there would doubtless be many failures. The teacher should always be thoroughly prepared before attempting to conduct a recitation.
Mr. Hagar agreed in substance with the remarks of the last speaker. Mr. Littlefield had spoken of the necessity of fitting scholars for the High School, as a reason why they should be taught by the memorizing system. It was for this very reason that he opposed it. He thought that one half the time spent in committing lessons to memory, if devoted to a different method, would better fit them for the High School. No one thought more of discipline as an object of study, than himself. Indeed, he considered it the main object. He believed, however, that ideas discipline better than mere words. It is better to think over a page of History than to commit it to memory. A scholar wbile memorizing thinks only of the words. What a child gets from a lesson depends very much upon what he is seeking. If we hunt for partridges, we shall be likely to get more partridges than if we hunted for rabbits. The scholar who commits to memory, is hunting for words. His acquisitions, therefore, will consist principally of words. That scholar, on the other hand, whose object is to get the ideas contained in the lesson, will doubtless get more ideas than the other. The child who, in recitation, gives merely the words of another, cannot have gained that discipline which another has gained who gives the ideas in his own words. Scholars who recite verbatim, often ask what comes next ? that is, what word comes next? thus showing that it is upon the words only that their attention is fixed.
There is no surer evidence of thorough discipline than for a scholar to be able to express clearly his own ideas in his own words. We, as teacbers, should begin early to cultivate this power of expression. Nothing is more essential to
We should do little, however, towards acquiring it by merely committing to memory the expressions of others.
His own custom in teaching History was, to give a subject, as for instance, the battle of Bunker Hill. He then told his scholars that be should hold them responsible for all the ideas contained in the book. He also encouraged them to obtain all the information possible from other sources. In recitation he questioned them closely to make sure that they had actually acquired the ideas of the book. The questions should be the teacher's own. Printed questions, he abominated. If they were used, the scholars would prepare themselves to answer only those which they saw before them, whereas, they should be taught to be ready to answer any question which may be put. He would have them examine the subject in the same manner as an older person would do. We are not satisfied, in investigating a subject, to examine but one authority; neither should the scholars be. We should teach so that the whole plan of study will not have to be changed when they leave school. The idea should be impressed upon them that they have entered a path of knowledge which they are to continue to follow through life, and that the better their start, the better will be their progress. The great object in teaching History should be, to infuse reality and life both into its scenes and its characters. Scholars often, do not at all realize that the historical characters, about wbich they read, were actually living men, such as they see about them. It should be the teacher's business to make these characters as life-like as possible. He did not believe that, in order to study hard, it was necessary to study uncomfortably. Neither did he believe as some present seemed to do, that a recitation was necessarily a failure because the teacher bad the ability to make it interesting and pleasant. He had no sympathy either. with the idea, that the teacher who makes a lesson hard, is necessarily a better one than he who makes it easy.
Mr. HOWARD, of Milton, announced the subject for discussion at the next meeting to be," Systems of Marking."
GEO. K. DANIELL, JR.
Report of the Special Commission on the Hours of Labor and the Condition
and Prospects of the Industrial Classes. House Document, No. 98. Boston. Wright & Potter, State Printers. 8vo, pp. 70.
As is known to many of our readers, by a vote of the last Legislature a Commission was appointed, to sit during the recess and take testimony and report to the present Legislature, on what is commonly known as the “ Eight-Hour Movement.” The Commission consisted of the Rev. Wm. P. Tilden, Dr. H. I. Bowditch, F. B. Sanborn, Esq., Secretary of the Board of State Charities, the