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seems long, is in truth but a small part of the time which your education requires, for that continues as long as you live. Many of you will find little immediate use for some of the studies you have here pursued, but will be called upon to learn new things, and to labor in new ways. No school can fit you for all things, and what you need most to gain is what any school can give you if you are faithful, — habits of observation, attention, patience and industry, with which you may overcome all difficulties. I hope you will all keep up, to some extent, the studies you have begun here, — and most of you can do so. An hour even ten minutes a daygiven entirely to some study, will, in a year, have greatly enlarged your knowledge and increased your happiness. What particular topics you ought to attend to, may be decided chiefly by your circumstances. But you must be careful not to allow circumstances to have too much weight with you, nor ever to fall into the error of making your situation an excuse for your faults. " Where there is a will, there is a way," — and you will be astonished to find how fast your difficulties vanish when you bid them be gone.
Yet with all the strength of the strongest will it is impossible for us to control, in any considerable measure, the outward course of our lives. That is directed by a higher power, and often our best plans are baffled, and our most generous labors defeated. Few men find themselves at forty, in the position which, at twenty, they marked out for themselves. With women, the choice and government of their own manner of life is still more limited. But there is no station in life in which we may not find peace in the performance of the nearest duties, and in the trust which hope and experience alike teach, that all is directed for our best good.
F. B. S. CONCORD.
We are sometimes, though unreasonably of course, almost sickened with education and its effects, from the number of minds which it produces that can learn, arrange, comprehend and remember everything, but can neither feel nor originate.—Boyes' Life and Books.
HINTS ON TEACHING.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR TEACHING.
It is often said that two things are requisite for success in teaching — a proper understanding of the subjects to be taught, and aptness to teach. This is very true, but each of these items needs to be particularly examined to get an adequate idea of their scope and meaning
What is the knowledge then, let us first inquire, which is essen. tial to good teaching?
One may know a great deal about a subject — that is may know many facts and theories — and yet when he is brought to a discussion in simple language of the fundamental principles, he may show that his knowledge is after all superficial. On the other hand, one's knowledge may be limited in material, and yet so far as it goes it may be thorough — he may have clear ideas of fundamental facts and principles. For example, one may not have received into his mind one-tenth part of what is contained in a full text-book on chemistry, and yet he may have incorporated into his mind vastly more of the science than another who has attempted to learn the whole of this text-book, and has supposed that he has done so because he has memorized it. So also, one may know all the rules of grammar and the applications of them, and yet may actually know less of the philosophy of language, and may converse less grammatically, than another who knows nothing of the grammarian's rules and technicalities. Indeed, one may be very learned on a subject, and yet may know little of the principles which lie at its foundation, although, when properly developed, and illustrated they are generally found to be very simple.
It is this fundamental knowledge that tells on the capability of a teacher, in whatever grade of teaching he may be engaged. It is also the introduction of such knowledge into the mind of the pupil, that wakes it up into an activity, which is never engendered by the learning of mixtures of dry technicalities and isolated facts, so common in the prevalent modes of education. And this activity is attended by a consciousness of power which is really exhilarating to the mind of the pupil, and he is so spurred on that he feels that he is taking long leaps in the pathway of knowledge. Such I recollect was the experience of an American sculptor, Bartholomew, on receiving instruction from the great Swedish sculptor Thorwaldsen. And many have had, to a greater or less extent, a similar experience, on coming under the teaching of those who know how to lay in the mind the foundations of knowledge. It is one of the most vivid of my youthful recollections that in preparation for college I learned more of one such teacher in a few weeks than I did in two whole years of another, whose teaching was abundant but superficial.
Beginning thus with fundamental principles, the teacher can follow out their application. Of course this must be done to a wider extent in the higher grades of instruction than in the lower; but in both essentially the same knowledge of principles is requisite for good teaching.
In thus working from the foundation the teacher can see the broad scope of a principle or general fact. In natural science it should be his aim, especially with the beginner, to illustrate principles largely from familiar phenomena, so as to cultivate the observing powers. Analogies, also, which are peculiarly attractive to the young, should be traced out. In this way the interest which naturally belongs to a subject will be developed, and we shall have living teaching, in distinction from the dry, dead teaching which spends itself in formal propositions and uninteresting technicalities.
All this implies thinking in the teacher over and beyond what is found in text-books. Something more than a mere apprehension of what is taught in them is requisite. There must be a real incorporation of truth into the mind. The teacher must not only “read and mark,” but also “inwardly digest," and then he will induce a corresponding digestion and growth in the minds of his pupils.
In this way the teacher is able to impress his own mind upon the minds of the scholars -- an ability which is one of the best qualifications for teaching. A sort of mental enthusiasm is an essential element of this, and perhaps we may say that the very attainment of such knowledge is proof of the existence of this enthusiasm. And yet some qualities of heart are necessary for the full effect there must be pleasure in communicating truth to another mind, which implies benevolence.
Aptness to teach, about which so much is said, and often rather indefinitely, is obviously a compound qualification. What I have already noticed is necessary to this. But besides, there is needed a proper understanding of the attitude and the capabilities of the minds of pupils. And just here there is very commonly failure in teachers. They are continually presuming that what is taught is fully understood, when proper tests would reveal the fact, that much of it is not understood at all, and that some of it is most grossly misapprehended. Especially is this true of the youngest pupils. Indeed, the higher the grade of pupils the less effort of mind does it require to adapt the instruction to them. In visiting à school in one of our cities where there was a large range of grades — in the upper rooms the instruction belonging to a high school being pursued, and in the lower the very beginnings of primary teaching - I was struck with the fact, that the efficiency and appropriateness of the instruction, which were excellent in the upper rooms, were quite regularly impaired as I went down in the grades, and in the very lowest room the instruction was entirely inappropriate. In this room were gathered about fifty children, who were reciting about certain words written on a blackboard, such as, bad, pen, men. They all spelled the word together, and then offered what purported to be a definition. After spelling the word pen the teacher asked, what is pen? To this a bright, little girl replied at once, a thing to write with, which I thought to be a good definition, but it did not suit the teacher, and they were all made to say a writing instrument, an answer that better comported with the formality and technicality which so generally prevail in the schoolroom. So the definition for men was human beings. In a little question-talk which I had with this school, I said to them, “You say that men are human beings now I want to know if you are human beings ?” The whole fifty said no, with such fulness of voice as indicated that they were certain that they were right.
The power of adaptation is needed not only in regard to different grades of mind, but also in reference to individual peculiarities. Many a mind of real ability has had its powers repressed, from failure in the teacher to detect its characteristic qualities. It is difficult, I know, in the established routine of our public schools, to become acquainted with the mental character of the several pupils in large classes, in the short periods allotted for recitations; but it is not impossible with one who is alive to the importance of this knowledge in educing mental power, which should be the great object of education. And to accomplish this, occasional setting aside of this routine would not be amiss.
It results from what I have said that one quite essential qualification of the teacher is, a due sense of the importance of making the pupil understand what he learns. A very serious disqualification in many teachers, of real talent in teaching, is the notion that it is well to store the memory with much that cannot be understood at present, because retained in the memory it will be understood at a future time. Most (observe that I do not say all) that is committed to memory should be understood at the time, and the teacher who holds the opposite idea mars decidedly his ability to teach.
Another essential qualification of the teacher is a sense of his liability to presume too much on the capabilities of his pupils. Such a sense will lead him to apply every now and then proper tests to their supposed knowledge.
Another qualification still is a sense of his liability to underrate the capacities of his pupils, especially in relation to their understanding of principles. Why is this, and how is this, are questions continually put by children, and a proper explanation will generally be intelligently appreciated. Children are better philosophers than they are commonly supposed to be.
To carry out fully the ideas of this paper, there needs to be a very considerable reform both in the modes of the school-room and in a large proportion of the text-books. Without this it is uphill work to teach on correct principles. To do it the teacher must stem currents, and run the risk even of displacement. A teacher of high reputation said to me after hearing a lecture delivered a dozen years ago,
"you are right, but if I should teach on those principles, I should lose my place in less than six months." A female teacher, who felt sorely the trammels of established rou