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so to very many persons, perhaps to most scholars, and to teachers, I fear, not a few. It is admitted that, in the beginning of the study, as it is too generally taught, there are some dry details which must be mastered, as in commencing almost any other study; and the teacher will often be taxed to the utmost to awaken and keep up an interest, particularly if the pupils are quite young, or if considerably older and yet quite backward in other studies, without any particular aptness for study any way. Children are often unquestionably put to the study of Grammar too young. As a general rule they should not begin it, except perhaps to learn some of the simplest and most general principles, before they are twelve years old ; and even then it will require a number of years of close, hard study, of severe mental discipline, before they are able to grapple with some of the more difficult and often abstruse principles of analysis. I know that many consider this age too old to begin, but many also think it too young; I believe the latter exercise the safest judgment; due allowance being of course made for the varying capacity of different children. I think the Spelling Book properly pursued — the whole of it—is grammar enough for the child before he is twelve years old; and the universal deficiency in this elementary department of the language not merely deficiency in the spelling do I mean, but in the nature and power of letters, and in orthoepy-proves this assertion perfectly correct. But this same universal deficiency cannot be justly charged to the High School. Few seem to reflect that the Spelling Book, which treats of Orthography and Orthoepy to some extent, is a part of Grammar, and a very essential part too.
It must be admitted that many teachers are incompetent to teach properly these important rudiments of the language, if we are to judge from the scholars they are continually sending into our higher schools. But important as this branch of the subject is, I do not think it ought to demand the time of a whole day of a Teachers' Institute of one or two hundred teachers for its discussion, to the exclusion of other less simple subjects.
Since Grammar is the science of language and the art of using it properly, and since the science and the art should be taught together, it follows that the study of it properly begins in the primary school, —that is, in its first principles.
Here then is to be laid the foundation of the grand superstructure; though a defective education here may indeed be remedied when the
pupil enters upon the Grammar proper, as it is generally presented in the Grammar books. But if he iş detained on the first part of Grammar, Orthography, he very naturally feels that it is dry and useless, and soon acquires an utter disgust with the whole subject. By the time he has groped his way through the first principles of Etymology, and come to the verb, he is continually in bad mood and worse tense ; and his complaints are loud and long; but he finds no sympathy except at home—too often plenty of it there. His dear mamma, or his aunt Mercy, or somebody else, consoles his anxious mind with the blessed assurance that “Grammar is a dry study anyhow ; I never could understand it myself; I never liked Grammar; and I never knew any thing about it!” That's just it, my good friend, you don't know any thing about Grammar. You told the truth the last time, and in your two preceding assertions; but in your first you did n't. You mean to be honest of course; but do you not reflect that you inflict an almost irreparable injury on your son by your foolish prating and misrepresentation of a subject you confess you know nothing of ? Perhaps you are moved by sympathy for your dear Charlie, fearing that his teachers are too exacting, or his studies too numerous or difficult, and will sooner or later break down (!) his delicate (?) constitution, or have the still worse effect to soften the brain (!), consequences about which every mother may justly have anxious solicitude provided the causes be real. But perhaps such remarks are uttered in indifference or in pleasantry only ; whatever be the motive, it is unworthy of the parent who should have the highest welfare of the child at heart always. It is very rare that the child at that age is broken down by hard study,- a good many opinions of respectable people to the contrary notwithstanding.
Children are apt to place implicit confidence in what their parents say; and an indiscrete remark from a parent under such circumstances will often do ten times more harm than a good, faithful teacher can correct in many weeks.
One boy of twelve or thirteen -just beginning Grammar - was very delinquent. I said to him : “ Now Charles, you must understand that you must get your Grammar lessons; you can't get rid of it if you try.” What do you think was his reply? “Well, but I don't like Grammar !” spoken in a tone of self-justification which you ought to have heard to appreciate. You see he had learned the cant somewhere. This evil influence of parents is exhibited not only in respect to Grammar, but also other studies. One scholar of superior natural gifts said: “Well, father says I shall never make a mathematician, and I know I sha’n’t.” And she seemed perfectly reconciled to this conclusion — I will not say here by what motive,and determined she would n't become a mathematician. But she may have everlasting cause for thanks that her teacher was more determined that she should ; and by a great deal of hard work and indomitable perseverance has succeeded in eradicating that false, mischievous notion. I have had more cases than one of this kind.
I have thus far mentioned three of the causes only that operate to render Grammar unpopular: first, beginning the study too young; second, incompetent teachers in the rudiments — merely hinted at however; third and especially, the pernicious influence of parents and others in deteriorating the study and in discouraging the pupil. But I shall hereafter discuss other and more potent reasons which will of themselves — to my mind at least — furnish a complete and undeniable solution of this troublesome problem.
J. M. R.
From the American Educational Monthly.
WHILE great improvements have been made in modes of teaching many of the sciences, Geography has been comparatively neglected. It certainly cannot be from any just sense of its relative importance, that, while mathematics, and the languages, have been taught with the greatest thoroughness, teachers have been contented with the most superficial methods of teaching this subject.
Recently, however, the labors and lectures of one of the most eminent scholars* of the present day, have awakened a desire for something better - some more philosophic methods, and more satisfactory results, in the presentation of the subject of geography in our common schools. The conviction is beginning to be felt that this noblest of sciences has been sadly unappreciated, and that, instead of being a mere catalogue of facts to be committed to memory, it is capable of being made a means of growth to the mind, and of affording the highest exercise of all its powers.
* Professor Arnold Guyot.
But the question, — how, if this higher view of it be the correct one, is this subject to be presented to the child,— remains as yet unanswered.
It will probably not be questioned that the best possible method of study in any subject is that which, while it shall give the clearest and most perfect knowledge of the subject itself, shall, at the same time, furnish the best facilities for the complete and symmetrical development of the mind.
In order to determine such a method it is necessary to inquire, First, what is the law of the mind's development? Second, what is the nature of the subject to be presented, and what is the general plan of treatment growing out of its nature, and therefore inviolable ? Third, by what special methods can this general plan be adapted to the needs of the mind in the several stages of its development ?
1. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MIND. Writers upon its laws and operations declare that though all the faculties of the mature mind exist from the beginning of its life in a greater or less degree of activity, they yet attain their full development at different periods. They come into activity not simultaneously, but successively, the full 'action of each subsequent class requiring the previous development and activity of the preceding; just as all the capacities of the plant for producing leaf, stem, flower, and fruit, exist in the germ, yet these do not all appear at once, because the higher cannot be developed without the preëxistence of the lower as a basis.
The earliest to attain full activity are the perceptive faculties. These through their agents, the senses, are extremely active in the young child, and constitute the only means by which the images of the external world can enter his mind and give rise to thought. Through their use he is able to obtain a clear conception of the general form and condition of every thing of which they can take cognizance.
In simultaneous action with these is the conceptive power, by means of which the mind grasps and retains the impressions it receives through the perceptive powers; and is able to recall them, and learns to express them. In a higher development the same faculty is able, by means of ideas and conceptions previously acquired, to create images of things of which the perceptive powers have not taken cognizance.
Next to become active is that analytic power of the understanding, by means of which the general conception, which alone could be obtained in the preceding condition of the mind, is separated into its elements, and studied in detail ; the knowledge acquired is considered and arranged ; and new ideas are derived apart from the exercise of perception, which are expressed in the form of abstract propositions.
Lastly, is developed that action of the reasoning power by which the mind rises to high generalizations, attains the knowledge of general principles and laws, is able to ascertain the causes of phenomena observed, and from known causes to predict results.
We find, therefore, that though all the faculties of the mind act to a certain extent in conjunction, there are yet three successive stages, each characterized by the predominant activity of certain powers, and consequently by a peculiar character of mental operations. In the first, that of the predominance of the perceptive powers, the child is constantly occupied in acquiring knowledge of the external world by the use of these powers, and through the expression of the knowledge so acquired becoming acquainted with language and other conventional signs of ideas, and is therefore becoming able to receive ideas from other minds through the medium of language.
In the second stage, that of the analytical power of the understanding, the knowledge of others, having now become accessible to him, is added to the results of his own more minute investigation, and finally becomes itself the subject of thought, analysis, and classification.
In the third, that of the predominance of the reasoning power, the mind having collected its materials, looks at them from a new point of view, and from the study of them in their combinations, arrives at a knowledge of their relations, and of the phenomena resulting therefrom, and of the laws which govern their existence and operations.
If, therefore, any method of stady is to contribute to the mind's development, it must furnish the appropriate degree of exercise for all these powers, in the order of their successive awakening; and we must distinguish, with Prof. Guyot, three natural phases,—the perceptive, the analytic, and the synthetic,—through which the learner