Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Pacific Railway. He may succeed, or he may fail in that particular hope, but I have no doubt he will yet distinguish himself as one of America's great railroad men.

The other was infatuated with a desire to be engaged in something which would place him on a railroad train. He was tired of study, and had apparently no desire to continue in school. He left study, and accepted a position as brakeman upon a freight train upon one of our shortest and most obscure railroads. If he shall look for a thorough knowledge of the business, and use his best efforts to make himself master of all the details of railroading, he will soon rise from this undesirable position to something better, and may eventually be successful and gain an excellent position. But if he sits down contented as a brakeman on a freight train, with no plan or ambition for the future, very few would envy him his position or his prospects.

What, then, shall the boys do? I went down to Pettaconsett the other day to see the foundations of the building that Mr. Corliss is putting up there for the new pumping engine which he has engaged to put in for this city.* I found that, in digging for the foundations, they came upon a deep bed of quicksand. Mr. Corliss, ever fertile in expedients to overcome obstacles, instead of driving down wooden piles, sunk in this quicksand great quantities of large cobble-stones. These were driven down into the sand with tremendous force by a huge iron ball weighing four thousand pounds. I said:

“Mr. Corliss, why did not you drive wooden piles on which to build your foundation ?"

"Don't you see,” said he, “that the piles have no discretion, and that the cobble-stones have?”

"I don't think I understand you, Mr. Corliss," was my reply.

“If you drive a pile,” said he, “it goes where you drive it, and nowhere else; but a cobble-stone will seek the softest place and go where it is most needed. It, therefore, has some discretion, and better answers the purpose.”

I went away musing that the wooden "piles" and the “cobblestones” represent two classes of boys. “The piles,” says Mr. Corliss, “ have no discretion, and go only where they are driven." I think I have seen boys who represented this quality. “But the cobble-stones go where they are the most needed.When boys fit themselves to go where they are the most needed, they will be pretty likely to meet with tolerably good success in life.

*Providence, R. I.

In the olden time it was considered enough for a boy to learn a trade. He then had, at least, “something to fall back upon." Nowadays, if a boy has only a trade, he may prove to be badly off. Some morning he may wake up and find that his trade is utterly useless, owing to the genius of some inventor, who has patented a machine which will do his work at a tithe of the previous cost, and in a tithe of the previous time required. These times require a young man to be so intelligent that he will know how to do business; and if the competition in one kind of business is too great, he will immediately and literally “turn his handto some other occupation.

Years ago one machine shop made engines, another lathes, another guns, another sewing machines, etc., and no two of them could, by any possibility, exchange works. Now, a first-class machine-shop takes a contract for making a large lot of lathes; then changes its machinery and manufactures a hundred thousand rifles for some European power; then contracts to make as many sewing machines ; then commences the manufacture of mowing machines, or horse rakes, or whatever the latest and most successful inventor wants made.

But the boy needs two things, and to succeed he must have them : (1) He must have an ambition to do his best; (2) He must improve his mind, and prepare himself to have such "discretion" as will enable him to "go where he is most needed.” A man, in this age, should not be a machine, nor an adjunct of a machine. He should understand the machine that he is to run, be superior to it, not be run by it, but, if need be, change it to do more, or better, or different work. - William A. Mowry, Talks With My Boys.

HARVEY AS A STUDENT OF NATURE. - In the Harveian oration for this year Dr. Reynolds lays stress upon the fact that Harvey was always studying and seeking to interpret nature. “He was one of her keenest and most devout interpreters; in reverence he knelt before her and asked her questions; he cross-examined her, but in no unfriendly tone. Nature was to him a perfect verity, the one witness that could neither be absorbed nor shaken, the one witness in whom there could be no false way, the one witness who could not lie. And by such a method only must science ever be advanced; it is thus that great discoveries are to be achieved, thus that we must seek to leave our footsteps on the sands of Time."The Medical Record.

Moral Education.

(Report made at the Executive Session of the Wisconsin Teachers' Association, Madison, Dec. 27, 1883.)

The Advisory Committee, to whom was referred the subject of moral education in the schools, respectfully submit the following report :

It cannot be too often repeated that the object of the public schools is to fit the young for intelligent citizenship. They are maintained not to make mechanics or lawyers, but to help in forming useful members of a civilized community. “ We must educate our masters," said Mr. Lowe, in the British parliament, as he contemplated the steady growth of popular power in England ; and the wise statesmen of other European countries, recognizing the irresistible tendency toward popular sovereignty, have felt that the safety of all that is most valuable in civilized communities depends upon the proper education of the young. Foremost among the duties of the schools, therefore, is that of inculcating in the minds of their pupils those moral principles upon which social order and good government rest. There is a secular morality which is not opposed to religious morality, but is reënforced and strengthened by religious motives when these can be called in to its aid. This morality is the result of human experience, is recognized by all civilized people, is taught by the philosophers of all nations, and is sanctioned by all enlightened creeds. It is the foundation of social order, and approves itself to all right-minded men. This morality can, and must, be taught apart from religion, but not in hostility to any of its forms. It must be taught, because the very causes wbich justify the maintenance of public schools at all make such teaching necessary.

At the same time it would be a mistake to limit the phrase, “moral education,” to this inculcation of precepts. It is broader and more vital than this. It means the formation of character; and this, so far as the school has to do with it, is the result of complex forces, of which precept is only one. The problem proposed, therefore, in the subject submitted to your committee is, “ Can any thing be done to help in rendering more generally systematic and effective the work of the schools in the formation of character ?”

Your committee are of opinion that something will be done towards this by the distinct and general recognition of the fact that the formation of right character is one of the principal aims of the school. Good government in school is often spoken of by those interested in education as if it were an end in itself; and yet there are schools which are governed to death, out of which all life, naturalness, spontaneity and enthusiasm are crushed by government, called good, because it secures a machine-like order. In other schools the intellectual training so absorbs the attention that management is looked upon as purely incidental to this, a means to render possible the teaching of many children together, and not as in itself an important factor in the formation of character. Discipline is looked upon as if its chief end were to bring refractory elements into conformity with general routine, instead of to touch the springs of life in the child, to give the supremacy in him to the better ele. ments of his nature, and thus to help him to grow into noble character. When the thought of forming character can be substituted in place of these imperfect views in the minds of school officers, a great step will have been taken towards making moral education in the schools more effective.

Further, it seems desirable that an attempt should be made to put into concise and simple form the essential elements of right moral training in the schools, so that it may serve as a guide and help to those who are to engage in the work of teaching. Such a scheme must be general in character, aiming to point out the principal elements of right moral training as they are exemplified in the practice of the most successful teachers, and leaving the details to the tact and skill of the individual. Such a scheme is herewith presented for your consideration and amendment, with the recommendation that after it shall have received your revisal and approval it be prinied in the future editions of the pamphlet on the course of study for district schools.

The scheme submitted recognizes three principal elements of moral training : The formation of right habits, the inculcation of right principles, and the development of moral judgment. It is believed that the distinct recognition of these ends, and systematic efforts to realize them, will be more likely to be fruitful of good results, than the plan of trusting to vague impulses, and a desire to maintain good government.

The work of the teacher is in like manner presented as three-fold; he must keep about his pupils right conditions for healthful moral development; he must show good management; and he must give right instruction in such a way as to develop moral thoughtfulness. Management is a safer term to use than government, for it sets forth more clearly the right relation of the teacher to his school. They might be used interchangeably; but by usage, government emphasizes rather the element of external restraint and force, which is indeed indispensable but subordinate, while management brings clearly to view the thought that the teacher must enlist on his side, in the interest of progress and uprightness, both the motive forces in the child's nature, and the social forces in the midst of which he lives. The children of a free country must be educated for freedom; and this education for freedom consists in bringing them as early and as constantly as possible under the influence of such motives as ought to control their lives, and by making them to a proper degree amenable to that force of public opinion, under which, as good citizens, they must live. Management is good when it brings the child's own nature into conformity with what is right, so that he feels that he chooses to act thus, and finds increasing strength and self-respect in so acting. An imperfect result of this sort is better than the most absolute submission to external force. It is this that Rousseau meant when he advised the tutor : “ Let him (the pupil) be his own master in appearance, and do you take care to be so in reality. There is no subjection so complete as that which preserves the appearance of liberty; it is by this means even the will itself is led captive.” And Locke wisely puts the opposite in words which ought to be familiar to every one who has to do with the training of the young : “ Slavish discipline makes slavish temper, and so leads to hypocrisy; and where it is most successful it breaks the mind, and then you have a low-spirited, stupid creature, who, however, with his unnatural sobriety he may please silly people, who commend tame, inactive children, because they make no noise, nor give them any trouble, yet, at last, will probably prove as uncomfortable a thing to his friends as he will be all his life a useless thing to himself and others.” The words that follow shortly after may be added as a complete statement of what wise management really is : “ To avoid the danger that is on either hand is the great art; and he that has found a way how to keep a child's spirit easy, active and free, and yet at the same time to restrain him from many things he has a mind to, and to draw him to things that are uneasy

to him ; he, I say, that knows how to reconcile these seeming contradictions, has, in my opinion, got the true secret of education."

The work of the teacher in the moral education of his pupils may be properly considered under three heads : (1.) Creating right conditions for healthful moral devolpment; (2.) forming right habits; and (3.) implanting right ideals or fixed principles.

CREATING RIGHT CONDITIONS.

A child responds much more completely than a grown person to the influences about him. He takes on unconsciously the tone of feeling and the opinions in the midst of which he lives, and himself grows to them. It is therefore necessary to create, so far as possible, a healthful moral atmosphere about him. Some of the chief elements of this are the following:

1. FRANK RELATIONS.-It is desirable above all that the relations of the teacher and the pupil should be such that the latter will not be driven to hide his life. Unwise treatment is almost certain to bring about attempts at concealment, which lead to deception and falsehood. The weakness of the child makes this his natural method of defense, and he ought not therefore to be put on the defensive when that can be avoided. Unnecessary and habitual severity, suspicion, continued fault find. ing, a cold and repellant manner; all these tend to put him in such an attitude. Under their influence he becomes watchful and cunning, learns to take pride in keeping his thoughts and actions from the teacher, and at length is prompted to do that which he knows will be disapproved under the impression that it is “smart.” Thus punishment for faults often leads not to their avoidance but to the secret cultivation of them. It is the teacher's duty to prevent such a state of things from arising. He can do so if he is careful to maintain at all times a spirit and attitude of helpfulness toward the child, instead of one of repression and severity. Discipline, when in. evitable, should be but an incident to this helpfulness. Sympathy with child-nature, and appreciation of its weaknesses and its better impulses, is indispensable to this end. Helpfulness gains the confidence and coöperation of the child; and confidence and cooperation should be rewarded with increased sympathy and confidence in return,

2. ORDER AND REGULARITY.- These should prevail in all the arrangements and management of the school and in all the child's belongings. He will become more self-controlling, thoughtful and conscientious, by being required always to put his wrappings in their proper place, to keep his books and material in order, and to pay a reasonable regard to propriety in his manner of entering the school-room, taking his place in his class, addressing his superiors, and so on.

3. CHEERFULNESS.-Children are naturally joyous. They are repelled by gloom, austerity and fretfulness. The atmosphere in which their natures unfold healthfully and properly is cheerful and inspiring. This keeps their powers pleasantly active, and links the life and lessons of the school with associations of enjoyment.

4. A Right PUBLIC OPINION.--Public opinion should not be left to grow as it will in a school, for it profoundly influences every member of the little community. Very rarely will a child be found who would not rather defy the teacher than the public opinion of the school. It is inevitable that this should be so, for his happi

« AnteriorContinuar »