« AnteriorContinuar »
elected, or the different constitution and functions of the United States, and State courts. There were also certain facts in Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and Physiology which all should know, but which must be imparted by the teacher as general information. Such, for instance, as why a pail of water, carried into a cellar in a cold night, will prevent the articles there from freezing, and why, on the same principle, our part of the country is only rendered habitable by the ocean which surrounds it; why we have no frost in a cloudy night; why we put yeast into bread; the cause of the tides, and facts in relation to the telegraph, fire-alarm, &c. He thought that in city schools especially, if more information of this kind were given, the scholars would be, on the whole, better educated.
Mr. Payson of Chelsea said that the importance of such information, no one can doubt. Scholars who learn nothing outside of the text-book will be sure to come out what are sometimes called “wooden scholars." His own custom was to spend regularly, every Wednesday and Saturday, from twenty to thirty minutes in giving miscellaneous information. The scholars were notified beforehand what the subject was to be, and were encouraged to ask as many questions as they chose. The results of such a course were very happy. Another way which he adopted was, to require every boy to bring a list of the books that he had read. He then questioned the boys about them. It often happened that several boys had read the same book, but had got different ideas from it. These he drew from them, and then compared them. Boys will, if encouraged to do so, ask a great many questions, especially upon History and Geography.
Mr. WHEELOCK of Boston (Boylston School) said that he bad no stated time for imparting general knowledge, but did it whenever he could. He doubted the expediency of assigning regular seasons for it.
Mr. JAMESON of Boston (Boylston School) said that in his youth he had attended a country school, and recollected that he learned a great deal by listening to the older classes. He thought that the scholars of such schools were, in general, possessed of more miscellaneous knowledge than those in city schools. In his own school, he had no stated time, but took a good deal for this purpose. He then gave some instances showing the subjects that boys were likely to be ignorant upon. On the day after it was reported that President Jobnson was assassinated, he asked his boys who, in case the rumor had been true, would have succeeded to the office. He found only one boy who knew. He then asked them who would become President if the President should die when there was neither President of the Senate or Speaker of the House ? No one knew, nor did he believe any one present could tell. In fact it was, be supposed, an omission in the Constitution. On another occasion he had asked them if Capt. John Smith was right in killing his master. All said yes. He then asked them if it was not equally right for any other slave to do so. To this question, though obliged by their previous admission to say yes, they did it with considerable hesitation. They were thus led to reflect upon a somewbat nice point in morals.
Mr. Payson said that unless a stated time were assigned for the exercise, it would be very likely to be neglected, especially in schools having many assist
ants. He had established the custom originally, in his own school, as a means of giving vent to the furor for object-teaching which at one time siezed the community of teachers, and which he considered very pernicious. He thought, however, that much benefit resulted from the exercise, and had therefore continued it.
Mr. Smith of Dorchester said that he had often noticed with pain how little scholars seemed to reflect upon what they studied. He thought, with other speakers, that scholars in the country were better informed upon matters of gen. eral interest than those in the city.
Mr. PøILBRICK of Boston related an anecdote to show the ignorance sometimes displayed by scholars of subjects upon which they should be informed. He was once visiting one of the schools of Boston, in which many of the scholars are foreigners. He asked them where the State House was. They answered, “ up by the Common." * Very well, now can you tell me what they do there ?" “Oh, yes,” said one," there is where they put bad people.” He thought the teacher should not be confined to stated times, but should bring in illustrations at every opportunity. There is, however, great danger, especially if the teacher is naturally fluent, of talking too much. The main object should be to cause the scholars to think for themselves. We should take especial care not to tell too many things at a time, as we shall thus only confuse them. We should carefully fix our points before commencing. He thought it a good thing to introduce objects in teaching. He recollected exciting an intense interest in one of the primary schools of the city by bringing in a stalk of sorghum ten feet long, which he found while riding in the country. Teachers should take care to have a regular system in their miscellaneous teaching, otherwise much of their labor will be lost. There are many facts in the chemistry of common life which may be profitably taught to scholars, and many of the facts of Natural History. He knew a lady who went to the Normal School and began to teach when more than forty years of age. She lived in a district where the school was almost entirely neglected, and where there was no interest whatever in education, either on the part of the parents or children. After fitting herself, she came home and announced her intention of teaching in her own town. The people would pay her nothing, but she determined to work hout pay. She began by explaining some of the facts of Geology, and encouraging the scholars to collect specimens. Gradually they became deeply interested in it, and busily engaged in collecting minerals. The result was, that the school became entirely renovated, and the Committee were forced, for very shame, to pay the teacher.
Mr. Willis, of Weymouth, stated that he took a portion of every Wednesday afternoon for miscellaneous exercises. He gave the scholars a subject upon which they wrote compositions, which he corrected. They were encouraged to ask as many questions upon the subject as they pleased. He thought there was great danger in all exercises of this kind that the teacher would do too much of the talking, and related an instance in which the scholars used purposely to induce the teacher to talk, knowing that they should escape their recitation.
Mr. CHASE, of Watertown, thought that children in the country were better informed upon subjects of general interest than those in the city. It seemed to
him too that those who went to school a few years ago possessed more general information than those at the present day. Parents now, he thought, left the work too much to the teacher, who has not time to do the whole. In his own school he appointed a time every week, and gave out beforehand the subject to be considered. Much useful information may be conveyed by explaining common phenomena as they arise ; such, for instance, as the water on the outside of a pitcher on a warm day,
Mr. Jones, of Roxbury, referring to what had been said about teacher's talking, said that he saw no objection to much of the talking being done by the teacher. If it were all left to the scholars they would necessarily lose much valuable information. He adopted both methods. He had lately given bis school, as a subject for discussion, “ The things on the table.” Now suppose he talked carefully, holding them responsible for remembering correctly, would they not, besides gaining knowledge, acquire habits of close attention ?
Mr. Mason, of Boston (music teacher), had observed that of two hundred primary teachers among whom he labored, those whose schools were generally considered the best were those who spent the most time in imparting general information. Other teachers say that they do not see how they find time for it, but they do get it, and with the happiest results. He thought it especially necessary in the primary and lower grammar schools. He was once in one of the lower rooms when the teacher was talking about sparrows. He asked the scholars how large a sparrow was, and found that very few had any correct idea. Some placed their hands two feet from the floor to designate what they supposed to be its height. As he entered another room, his attention was called to a boy standing there in disgrace because he could not spell“ forest.” He asked him if he knew what a forest was, and found that he did not. He was constrained to remark that, if that were the case, he should not care whether be spelled it or not. On questioning the school, he found that hardly any of the scholars knew what “forest” meant. There is, in some schools, a most lamentable neglect in this matter. In others, bowever, it was very thoroughly attended to. He was often
very much gratified by the manner in which all kinds of useful information was interwoven with the regular exercises of the school.
Mr. PHILBRICK said that the primary teachers of Boston had always before them a perfect model of skill and tact in teaching small children in Mr. Mason himself. He then referred in terms of high commendation to a programme for imparting miscellaneous information which was lately published in Chicago. It originally appeared in a book called “ Graded Schools,” by Mr. Wells, but had been revised and improved. It lays off a carefully digested system of miscellaneous instruction side by side with the regular school course. It is accomplishing wonders.
Mr. HAGAR, of Salem, said that whether the teacher or the scholars talked in recitation should depend upon the object aimed at,—whether it be to impart knowledge, or to draw out the powers of the pupils. If a scholar does not possess the requisite information he supposed that no amount of questioning would draw it out of him. If we mean, however, to teach him to reason, we
should allow him to do most of the talking, only leading him by judicious questions. When he stated a fact in Physics be always tried to lead the scholars to explain it for themselves. We should first excite a desire for knowledge, and then gratify it. There was a great amount of useful information to be obtained from the newspapers, if they are judiciously read. He bad sometimes directed his scholars to read their newspapers attentively, and cut out whatever seemed of peculiar interest and lay it away. After a while he would have the cuttings brought to him. This practice caused the scholars to read much more attentively. We should also try by every means to incite our pupils to observe closely the natural phenomena wbich are constantly going on about them. He thought it a good plan to set apart a regular time when the scholars may bring in questions upon anything which they have seen and do not understand. They will then be much more likely to notice whatever needs explanation. He had once made such an arrangement in his own school, and was sometimes puzzled himself at the questions that were asked. One boy wanted to know why it was that the nails on his father's barn-door bad frost on them, while the boards did not. Another asked why the boards on bis barn-door had frost on them, when the nails did not. Another could not understand why the ice was higher on the borders of Jamaica Pond than in the middle. Another could not see why the ice cracked in a cold day. He tried as far as possible to have the scholars work out the explanations for themselves. They were not always, however, able to do it without his assistance, and on such occasions he did not hesitate to do most of the talking himself. He believed in setting apart a special time for this exercise, but we should not confine ourselves too closely to it. There is always an opportunity to convey useful knowledge. Teachers should guard against the danger of talking too much. There is a great deal of talking done that amounts to nothing. They should take care to be very definite in what they say. They should always make up their minds beforehand exactly what they will attempt. Mr Hagar closed by recommendimg, for the use of teachers, a book called, “ Homes without Hands.” It contained, he said, material enough to furnish subjects for miscellaneous instruction on Natural History for a long time.
GEO. K. DANIELL, JR., Secretary.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON. Our American Universities and Colleges seem quite insignificant when compared with the Faculty of University College in London. The following is a list of the various professorships, as appears in a London newspaper :
“ Latin, Greek, Sanscrit, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian ; Teluga, Marathi, Hindostani and Hindi ; Bengali, Gujrathi, Hindoo Law, English Language and Literature, French Language and Literature, Italian Language and Literature, German Language and Literature, Comparative Grammar, Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, Experimental Physics, Physiology, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Geology, Mineralogy, Drawing, Botany, Zoology, (Recent and Fossil,) Ancient and Modern History, Political Economy, Law, Jurisprudence. Except in geology and mineralogy, which are under one professor, each of the others has a separate professor or teacher. The six languages of Hindostan are probably learned by those who wish to prepare themselves for employment in British India."
That munificent millionnaire, Mr. George Peabody, has just placed the sum of $150,000 in the hands of trustees for the foundation and maintenance of a Museum and Professorship of American Archæology and Ethnology, in connection with Harvard University. $45,000 of this sum is to be invested as a fund, the interest of which shall be applied to forming and preserving collections of antiquities and objects relating to the early races of the American continent; $45,000 goes to found a Professorship of American Archæology and Ethnology, and the remaining $60,000 is to accumulate to $100,000 to build a fire-proof
A correspondent in Wisconsin sends us the following:
According to a suggestion in a recent number of the “ Teacher," I have given the words “caterpillar” and “stomach” to my school, and obtained the following methods of spelling these two words :
Caterpillar, catterpillar, catipillar, cattipiler, catipiller, catapillar, catapilar, catepiller, cattipiller, caterpiller, catapillier, cattepiller, catipilar, catupillar, cuttipillur, catpiler, catepillar, catapelia, catapiler, catipeller, cattapeller, catarpillar. Twenty-two ways.
“ Stomach, stommach, stumack, stoamach, stomack, tomuch, stummac, stummic, stomoch, stumach, stomarch, stumac, stomock, stomac. Fourteen ways"
VOCAL CULTURE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF ROXBURY. - Moses T. Brown, Professor of Elocution in Tufts College, has been elected teacher of Vocal Culture in the Roxbury Public Schools, where he will be occupied a part of each week during the whole school year. Professor Brown has recently given courses of lessons to the teachers of West Roxbury and West Cambridge, and the teachers in both those towns passed warm resolutions of thanks for his acceptable labors in their behalf. We understand that his services can be secured by teachers, and he will accept a limited number of engagements to teach classes anywhere within easy reach of Boston. We hope our readers will bear this in mind.
Mr. FRANCIS Allston CHANNING, son of Rev. W. H. Channing, and late scholar of Exeter College, Oxford University, England, has been elected to a lay fellowship in University College. Mr. Channing received the Chancellor's prize for the English Essay in 1865 and the Arnold Historical Essay in 1866.