Imágenes de páginas

in Geography, as, indeed, in every branch of science, must pass before he can obtain a perfect knowledge of the subject of his study.

We may premise, then, as a general principle growing out of the laws of the mind and therefore governing the presentation of all subjects whatever, that the portion of the subject which addresses itself mainly to the powers of perception, and only gives the simplest possible exercise to the powers of the understanding, or reasoning powers, is the only one proper to be presented to the very young pupil. This is the perceptive phase of his study. It must follow that if a subject present no opportunity for such a phase, it is not an appropriate one for the study of the very young

Afterward is needed a more minute and detailed investigation which will decidedly tax the earlier powers of the understanding, and which will give to the analytic phase its special character.

Lastly, the reasoning powers are mainly addressed; for the facts or phenomena with which the student deals, must be viewed in their mutual relation and combined action. This is the synthetic phase.

Subjects which do not present material for all these phases can be profitably studied only in particular stages of the mind's growth, while those in which all are found furnish suitable food for it at every step of its onward progress.

11. NATURE OF THE SUBJECT. We come now to the second part of our problem, viz. : to determine the nature of the subject and the general plan of treatment growing out of that nature.

“Geography,” in the language of Professor Guyot, “ Is the Science of the Globe, considered, not as a mere aggregation of unrelated parts, but as an organized whole, formed of members, each having an individual character and special functions, all mutually dependent and operating together, according to laws established by the Creator, to perform functions possible to no one alone.”

If this be the case,—if the globe is to be considered as a magnificent mechanism, prepared by the Creator with a special form, and a special character and arrangment of parts or members, in order to produce a given result,—then the study of it is to be conducted on precisely the same general plan as that of any other individual organization of which we desire to ascertain the conformation, the laws of its operation, and its adaptedness to produce the result intended.

First is required a general view of the whole, in order to ascertain its figure, the parts or members of which it is composed,— their arrangement, not only absolutely in the whole, but relatively or in regard to each other,—their comparative size, and the general conformation of each.

Second. Each of these individuals is to be made the subject of special, detailed study, in order to ascertain its particular organization,

- the character, arrangement, and relation of its several portions the character of the whole individual resulting therefrom,—and finally the phenomena of life associated with it, whether vegetable, animal, or that of man considered both ethnologically and in the social capacity of states or nations.

Third. Having ascertained the individual character of the several members, we look at them again in combination, in order to ascertain the influence which each by its peculiar character exerts upon the others, thus to determine its function in the whole mechanism and to arrive at a knowledge of the laws which govern the organization of the latter. Then referring to the history of mankind, we trace the operation of those laws on his character and destiny, and ascertain the adaptedness of this wonderful mechanism to the end for which it was created, the education of the human race.

In the first, we find the perceptive phase of the study, since, by the use of the globe, of accurate physical maps, and of good illustrations, it can be presented almost wholly to the perceptive faculties. The second is the analytic, and the third the synthetic phase.

What subject so rich in material for the growth of the mind! What other science furnishes appropriate food, alike to the sunnyhaired child of ten summers, and to the grave philosopher, whose head droops with the accumulated knowledge of “three score years and ten!"


ARTILLERY.—Troops whose duty it is to serve the cannon, either in the field or in fortifications. They are armed with swords. They are divided into light and heavy artillery. The former have light guns and gun-carriages, which can be taken to pieces, and transported on the backs of horses and mules. The latter have charge of siege and other heavy guns. The artillery usually constitutes about onetenth of the force.


In many of our schools, there is no exercise more perplexing to the teacher and more irksome to the scholar than that of English Composition. The one does not know precisely what he is to teach, and how he is to teach it; the other does not see clearly what he is to learn, and how he is to learn it. We offer a few practical suggestions for their common assistance.

This subject presents itself in two aspects ; the one, logical; the other, rhetorical; the one related to the thought; the other, to the expression. These aspects are not, however, mutually independent, for clearness, distinctness, and propriety of thought reveal themselves ' in perspicuity, energy, and elegance of expression.

The assignment or the choice of a subject demands the first attention, when Composition is viewed in its logical aspect. This matter should be kept entirely under the teacher's control; he should either appoint, or, at least, approve the themes to be discussed by his pupils. He can thus insensibly control and guide their reading and their habits of thought.

The subject assigned should be one that is clear and distinct, welldefined in outline, and easily definable in language. Let it be more than an attractive but empty name; let it be susceptible of clear division and full discussion. It should therefore be limited in extent, and within reach of the scholar's powers of thought and expression. Let it have interest for him, either on account of its present bearings or of its permanent importance. Let it be something that he is wont to think or to hear of, or something that he ought to be acquainted with. If it be thus clear and limited and pertinent, it will be likely to have that unity which will secure compactness and directness of discussion, and give at once instruction and pleasure.

The following illustration will make these directions clearer. In this practical, mechanical, utilitarian age; the theme “ Iron” would not be inappropriate or uninteresting for discussion. But this subject is too vague and broad and remote to attract a young writer. One cause of the distastefulness of this exercise of Composition is the vagueness and remoteness of the themes either assigned or chosen. Limit this theme, therefore, rejecting the cognate subjects, "the mining and smelting of iron,” “ the constitution and qualities of iron,” " the history of iron manufacture," " the ornamental uses of iron,” and adopt " the mechanical uses of iron”; and inasmuch as we are in the midst of a war, and a large part of our habitual thought and speech relates to war, limit the theme still further to “ the mechanical uses of iron for military purposes.” It would be strange if, in these days of military railways, Parrott guns, fifteen inch shells, monitors and torpedoes, the pupil could not offer some lively and interesting thoughts for such a discussion.

The subject having been thus determined, the next thing is to teach the scholars how to discuss it. The method of discussion will of course depend on the nature and the form of the theme. If it be a proposition, it is to be proved by argument, which shall show why the assertion is to be admitted ; if it be only a term or a notion, it is to be separated into its constituent parts, or else its various attributes or qualities are to be mentioned in an appropriate order and explained and illustrated. The teacher will develop both his own and his pupil's power of thought by insisting on the formation of a full and complete plan, whether of argument, division, or definition, before the making of sentences is begun. He will also thus facilitate the work of composition itself. The stream will flow more freely and smoothly when the channel has been already prepared for it.

To illustrate, as before : The proposition, “ Iron is useful for military purposes,” would be discussed by bringing forward such reasons or arguments as the following: 1. Because, by forming railways, and locomotives and steamboat engines, it facilitates the transportation of troops, munitions of war, &c. 2. Because it makes guns, shells, swords — the essentials of offensive warfare. 3. Because it is proved to be the best armor for vessels and is useful on fortifications. 4. Because it is concerned in the manufacture of almost every article needed for military equipment. If this same theme were presented as a term, then it would read either, “ The military uses of iron," or 66 The qualities of iron which adapt it to military uses.” Then might be mentioned under the first : 1, Military roads ; 2, Weapons ; 3, Defences ; 4, Machinery. Under the second : 1, Ductility and hardness, suiting it for road-making; 2, Tenacity and weight, suiting it for guns, shot, &c.; 3, Power of resistance, suiting it for armor.

Such a discussion having been carefully planned, and a method devised for introducing and closing it, the writer may proceed to the forming of sentences. That leads to the rhetorical aspect of Composition, which will be hereafter discussed.

R. P. D.

[blocks in formation]

MARCH 28th, '64— WEDNESDAY NIGHT.— Was any one ever so tormented ? I have really had serious thoughts of turning hermitess or nun. Such trials of temper as I've endured this day! When I reached school this morning it was late ; very cold and no fire; the children shivering, and some crying. I was in a state worse than

« AnteriorContinuar »