Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

er impression on his memory ; and more than all, the effort has disciplined his mind, and his success has tanght him what he can do. If you carry the toitering infant in your arms, he must always be carried. He may fall when he attempts to walk alone, and relinquish the attempt. But give him your finger for a partial support and guide, and he will soon attain the use of his feet."

BOOKS AND INSTRUCTERS FOR CHILDREN. The construction of books, and the methods of communicating instruction, have a peculiar importance in relation to the earlier and more elementary parts of knowledge. When a student has laid a good foundation in the elementary principles of a subject, he can pursue that subject with profit and facility even with indifferent instruction. But children, in their first setting out in the path of knowledge, with the feeble powers which belong to their years; with no definite ideas of the importance of the undertaking; and with a doubtful determination to overcome the difficulties of the way,—should be afforded every aid that can facilitate their progress, and every encouragement that can beguile in any degree the weariness of labor, and incite them to continued and increased exertion. Many a boy with natural powers as good as those of his fellows, has been made a blockhead by the injudicious management of those who have undertaken to teach him. Many a boy has conceived a dislike to a particular branch of knowledge from the unfavorable aspect in which it was first presented; from the otimely appearance of some difficulty, for which his instructer had not previously prepared him; or from the misconception of some fact or principle in the beginning, which proved a perpetual stumbling-block in his progress.

A disgust has in this way been frequently contracted, which neither the enterprise of the youthful mind, nor the eloquence of subsequent instructers, has ever been able to remove; and this, too, in cases where the child bas no natural incapacity for the study. Frequently those who have been thus cheated out of an invaluable portion of their life, have by some accident been disabused of the mistake, and, after the age of action has arrived, have set themselves down to the acquisition of knowledge, with which the wasted years of their boyhood might, "vish proper care at first, have given them a familiar and practical acquaintance.

These occurrences are by no means infrequent; and they are circumstances of which we should never lose sight in deciding upon books and instructers for children. It is not enough that the instructer is a good scholar and an industrious teacher. It is not enough that he possesses classical taste; that he has a conception and a feeling of the beauties of literature and the truths of science, and an eloquence that would recommend them to the dullest of his pupils. He must be apt to teach as well as willing. He must study carefully the operations of the mind in the acquisition of knowledge. He must put himself to school to his pupils. He must study the character of their individual minds, by presenting different subjects to them, and obser ving how “hey take hold of those subjects, the kind of efforts which they make to comprehend them, and the extent to which their undisciplined faculties are able to reach. This habit of studying the peculiar characteristics of his pupil's minds, and endeavoring to temper his instructions, both in kind and degree, to their individual wants, will, we cannot say soon, but will in time, enable him to judge with tolerable accuracy in what they need to be assisted, and in what it is best that they should rely upon their own efforts. Too much teaching is as hurtful to the pupil as too little; nay, it is more so; it deceives him with the mere shadow of knowledge, and prevents hin from making those exertions which are necessary to secure the substance.

U. S. Lit. Gaz.

ACCOUNT OF THE SYSTEM OF INFANT SCHOOLS. A full account of this system, which is doing so much good, is contained in the Journal of Education. Some extracts cannot fail to be acceptable to our readers, especially such passages as afford valuable suggestions to the parent and the instructer of a common school,

It appears that a national society was formed in England in 1824, to promote the establishment of infant schools. The Christian Observer for August, 1924, contains a statement of the views and the proceedings of the committee of this society : “ The infant-school society has been formed to promote the establishment of schools, or rather asylums, for the children of the poor, before the age at which they are capable of engaging in any profitable employment, or at which they may be received into Other schools. The proper objects of the society's care, therefore, are children of both sexes, from two to six years of age. Childrer, at this age generally prove, during the working hours of the day, a heavy encumbrance on parents who are obliged to toil hard for a subsistence. One of the society's objects is to lighten the pressure of this inconvenience, and to leave the parents and particularly the mother, more fully at liberty to pursue some gainful occupation for the common benefit of the family.” _“It is proposed to forin schools, which shall be capable of receiving from 200 to 300 infants, and which, while they secure relief to the parents, shall be made subservient to many other important purposes. The plan is, in the first place, to provide an airy and spacious apartment, with a dry, and, if possible, a large play-ground attached to it, where, under the eye of a properly selected master and mistress, these infants may pass the hours during which their parents are at work ;-and in the second place, to render this receptacle, not a place of irksome restraint and confinement, but a school for the acquisition of habits of cleanliness and decorum, of cheerful and ready subordination, of courtesy, kindness, forbearance, and of abstinence from every thing impure or profane,-a scene, in short, at once of activity and amusement, of intellectual improvement and moral discipline.”—“The incidental acquisition of useful knowledge, which cannot fail to accompany this course of early tuition, though in itself a circumstance of no mean value, is but of small account, in comparison with that moral culture, with those habits of self-government, and with those feelings of mutual kindness, which form the characteristic tendencies, and indeed the grand recommendation, of the whole system. In this point of view, it is a matter of the highest importance, to select superintendents for these schools, who have learned to govern their own tempers ; who unite firmness and decision of character with mildness, patience, forbearance and kindness of disposition ; who are not liable to be moved, either to vehemence, or to peevishness, sharpness, or ill-humor, by the waywardness of the children, or by the various difficulties of their task ; whose tone and manner, as well as feelings, shall be uniformly those of parental affection ; and who shall be disposed, from a sense of duty, to exercise constant vigilance in marking, and gently counteracting, every instance the children may exbibit of insubordination or disobedience towards their teachers, or of fretfulness, selfishness, unkindness, or violence in their intercourse with each other, and especially in their hours of play, which, at that age, inust necessarily occupy by far the largest portion of their time.” -“It would be difficult duly to estimate the effects on society, and, amongst many others, the diminution of private vice and of public delinquency, which, under the divine blessing, must follow the general adoption and steady prosecution of such a sys

tem of infant training. At present, we behold the streets, and lanes, and alleys of the metropolis, and other large towns and villages, crowded with squalid children, left, in utter peglect, to wallow in filth, to contract disease, and to acquire habits of idleness, violence, and vice. Almost the first language whicb many of them learn to lisp, is that of impurity and profaneness. Almost the first science in which many of them are instructed, is that of depredation. . Abroad, they are exposed to every vicious seduction: at home, they too often suffer from the caprice or violence of parents incapable of instructing their ignorance, whose poverty makes them discontented and irritable, and who feel the very presence of their children to be a drawback on their efforts to earn a subsistence. From such a course of education what can be expected but a proficiency in vicious propensities and criminal practices ? --what, in short, but that mass of juvenile delinquency, which, in the present day, we have been forced to witness and to deplore ?"

A Mr. WiLDERSPIN, who has been a successful teacher in an infant school, has published a book containing an account of his method of instruction. The following are extracts : “As the human mind is formed for an endless variety, the oftener the scene can be changed the better, especially for children ; for if little children are kept too long at one thing, they become disgusted and weary of it, and then the mind is not in a fit state to receive instruction. I cannot help thinking that many persons, in their over anxiety to bring children forward in their learning, actually defeat their own intentions by keeping the mind too constantly fixed upon one ohject. Where can be the utility of keeping a number of little children sitting in one position for hours after they have said their lessons ? No better way, in my humble opinion, can be taken to stupify them; for little children are naturally lively ; and if they are not suffered to move, but kept constantly in one position, they not only become disgusted with their lessons, but likewise with the school. Hence, pero haps, is one of the reasons why so many children cry on going to school ; but as one of the principal ends in view in infant schools is to make the children happy, as well as to instruct them, it is thought expedient to change the scene as often as possible." -“ As an infant school may very properly be called a combination of the school and nursery, the art of pleasing forms a prominent part in the system; and as little children are very apt to be fretful, it becomes expedient to divert as well as teach thein ; for is children of two years old and under are not diverted, they will naturally cry for the mother; and to have ten or (welve children crying in the school, would put every thing in confusion : but it is possible to have 200, or even 300, children asseinbled together, the eldest not more than six years of age, and yet not to hear one of them crying for a whole day."— The following is a specimen of Mr. Wilderspin’s method of “giving little children bodily exercise, and mental improvement, and pleasing them at the same time.” “ The children are all ordered to sit on the ground, which they readily obey. They are then desired to count one hundred, or as many as may be thought proper, which they do by lifting up each foot alternately, all the children counting at one time. By this means every part of the body is put in motion, and with this advantage, that by lifting up each foot every time they count one, it causes them to keep time, a thing very essential, as, unless this was the case, all would be confusion. They also add up two at a time by the same method ; thus, two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, and so on; but care must be taken not to keep them too long at one thing, or too long in one position."

[To be continued.)

NEW-YORK HIGH SCHOOL. This school consists of three principal departments; the Introductory, the Junior, and the Senior. The number of pupils is 650, that being the complement. In the introductory department, the system adopted in the infant schools of England, has, with some modifications, been introduced. The Journal of Education contains some interesting articles relative to this school; from which we extract the following paragraphs: “It will be difficult to assign the lowest age at which children will be admissible to this (the introductory] department; but we perceive no objection to their being introduced as soon as they can walk, and pronounce, with tolerable distinctness, words which are repeated to them, and have suflicient vivacity to notice what is passing around them. Their physical comforts, as needful not only to the promotion of health, but to the uninterrupted developement of the mental faculties, will be carefully attended to. Their intermissions from study will be frequent; and order, and entertainment, and healthful exercise introduced into their sports. The first literary exercise to be given them is writing. With a chalk pencil on a black table, or with a stick in white sand, they will imitate the letters of the alphabet, boih printeri and written; and, simultaneously with their progress in spelling, will be their advanceinent

« AnteriorContinuar »