網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

temptation in the future. But in what shall the instruction consist? First, the child should be taught unconditional submission to all proper authority; and whether there seems to be any present necessity for the lesson or not, it should be so thoroughly, so frequently, and so faithfully taught, that there never can be any present necessity for teaching it.

Next, teach every little child the great law of kindness. Do not be satisfied because you see children so naturally kind to each other in their happy hours and childish sports. This is only an indication that you, primary teachers, have an easy and delightful duty before you. But just here, my dear friends, suffer me especially to admonish you, that you can not over-estimate the importance—the solemnity rather-of your position. You must assume that this out-gushing kindness of childhood may be matured into a strong, over-ruling principle, or it may fade into uncertain impulses, just as you shall permit its direction to run. You must labor with your pupils and for them, as if deliverance from a life of

savage

selfishness and cruelty depended wholly upon your exertions. Do not let an unkind word be uttered in your school-room or on your playgrounds; watch, and treat appropriately, all angry looks, and while, negatively, you are suppressing every thing contrary to the law of love, do all you can positively to inculcate it; suggest to them little modes of really doing kind things to each other. And do not grow weary in doing this. Keep doing yourself, and keep your children doing. Never, for a moment, suppose that your work is an insignificant one.

You are teaching a great law, the law of love, the law of Heaven; joyfully and lovingly should you do this noble work.

Still farther on, teach children kindness to the unfortunate, to the stranger, to animals, in brief on this point, get as much of heaven upon earth into your school-rooms as you possibly can. And there is perfect truthfulness, and perfect honesty, and heroic courage to do right, to be instilled thoroughly into these little minds. And then there are some ugly wild beasts at your door to be watched, Jest they devour your tender lambs-such as profanity and vulgarity. For character is first in favor now, character is to be “king" henceforth, you remember, and nothing that would harm or mar its beauty must be allowed to enter. These miniature men and women must soon go from your instruction to the next teacher above, and, still retaining their artlessness and innocence, you must pass them up, perfeet little patterns of propriety, perfect little heroes for the truth and for right.

This is a slight sketch of the change of labor and relations for a single grade. It would, of course, be understood that the successive grades above should be responsible, first, for securely retaining all that had been acquired through such watchfulness and faithfulness, in the school below. And here grave responsibilities open upon us. For, with each ascending grade, the advancing age of the pupil requires a new exertion of restraining and controlling power to hold him steadfastly in the paths of uprightness. And if this is not done, what shall be said of the teacher or grade where the failure was made? If, after the work in the lower grades had been faithfully, skillfully, nobly done, such a calamity should occur midway between the Primary and High School, what a shock would thereby be given to our system! What breaking of arteries or snapping of nerves would produce such a sensation? How could society be compensated for such losses? How could the teachers of the grades below find consolation for their lost labor and treasures ? When the schools below fail to give each their proper quantity and quality of instruction in the sciences, the schools above are seriously and unjustly embarrassed by the culpable neglect. But what shall be thought of offering to the higher grades damaged characters and corrupting influences? And if the grand failure should occur at the High School—if, standing at the head of the system, it should have low conceptions of its position or its duties, or, still further, knowing its responsibilities, it should fail to meet them, and the good principles which had been so assiduously, so tenderly, through long years, 80 faithfully inwrought, be there dissipated, scattered to the four winds of heaven, how should the loss be estimated ? If it were the sentiment of our people, that the crowning excellence of our free public school system was to prepare noble men and women for our country and the world, how keenly would the disappointment be felt if there should be found want of skill, want of profound senso of obligation, -want of complete and triumphant success in the particular department where all these qualities were demanded in the highest perfection!

I have hastily glanced at a few points of advantage and changes of relations among our school grades and teachers, which the proposed end of school instruction would involve. There are also some other important relations to be stated, some other advantages to be gained, and also some further objections to be met. The more full discussion of these topics may be given when it shall seem to be demanded.

It will be seen that I am now seeking a new contract, or rather new conditions to a former contract, between teachers and the public. To be binding as an agreement they must, of course, receive the assent of both parties. I have no authority for saying that they will be entirely aeceptable to either. I suspect teachers will feel a reluctance assume such new responsibilities, not from any want of right disposition, but from the real magnitude of the undertaking, and from a painful consciousness of want of the necessary preparation and power to do such work. Truly, teachers, the right formation of character for this generation of the children of our city is an enterprise full of difficulties and discouragements, and you must have power, directing, controlling power, or you can do nothing of this labor. If you are to stand by the side of the parent, in place of the parent, often even above the parent, in the education of his children, you must have first the power which genuine affection gives. Children delight in an atmosphere of affection. They would instinctively exchange houses of marble for cabins of logs or clay, to dwell with hearts as gentle and loving as their own. Sparkling gems, or the richest attire, would be worthless to them as pebbles or rags, if counted against a mother's, or sister's, or brother's love. It is fixed in the deep counsels of Infinite Wisdom, that children shall be led by affection, be taught early obedience to duty, not through reasoning faculties, just feebly dawning, but through the affections now glowing in full sunlight, and there must be no thought of evasion of this divine law. Teachers, as well as parents, then, must love children. But surely, every body must love, or can learn to love, little children. And in loving them wisely and well, we may fashion their hearts, and habits, and tempers after any model we will. Within certain limits, and for certain ends, knowledge is power to the teacher in forming character, as well as developing the intellect. If you need more of such power, the world of science and the whole field of history are open to you. Take as much as you need or as you please.

Again, right is might, truth is might, and the soft-haired boy, as well as the gray-haired man, must bow to their power. Teach the child or the young man the letter and spirit of the golden rule; bury deep in his heart the great principle of love to God and love to man, and a power mightier than the silent forces of creation continually operates to ameliorate his nature and guide his wayward steps. Explain, patiently and gently, how the Eternal Father loves and approves thoughts and deeds of kindness, even in children, and teach him, by skillful modes of illustration, how He hates, with an infinite, eternal hatred, all forms of oppression, and no future arguments, however crafty or profound, can dislodge this conviction from his heart. Bring to his full comprehension, often and faithfully, the truth, that for all his wrong-doing, both open and secret, conscience will be a swift witness of his guilt, and for all this guilt there must be accountability, and you throw around him a restraining power such as no human wisdom can devise. For truth is mighty, far mightier than all other instrumentalities that mortals are permitted to wield, and in its judicious employment we may proceed with the saine confidence in laying the foundations of character that we look for mental development to follow mental exertion, or the sea. sons to go and return, or the green herbage to spring up under the genial sunshine.

Again, purity, personal purity of heart and life, is power-power perhaps slightly understood and appreciated in this life, yet ever silently, under Providence, working out the grandest and noblest results. Faith, true Christian faith, is power, giving to the little child or the feeble invalid a might which the strongest intellect may not possess. And still further, daily communion with the Source of all Power imparts to the feeblest intellect attributes of sovereignty. How often, by this means, does the humblest mortal “move the hand that rules the world!” How seeming impossibilities become pleasant pastimes under the friendly direction of an omnipotent guide! How, by communion with the High and Holy One, have the weak surpassed the wise in wisdom, or the keenest trials ended in songs of triumph! That slave-prince, Joseph, was mightier than all the monarchs of Egypt, because he was in habitual communion with the Sovereign of all Sovereigns; because the Eternal Jehovah was his daily refuge, and underneath him were the Everlasting Arms. There was no "smell of fire ” on the garments of those three Jewish captives who were thrown into the “burning fiery furnace," because the “form of the Fourth” was there, and the “form of the Fourthwas there because Iis infinite power and loving presence had been invoked for this hour of terrible ordeal.

Self-denial is power. Self-sacrificing affection is power-power in the lowliest stations of life, and power in the most exalted, power at the humblest fireside, and power among the nations of the earth. Observe how it gives the mother her irresistible influence and her imperishable memory in the family circle. How it gives the mis sionary respect and kind regards among brutalized and depraved tribes of men all unused to words of kindness. How it every where subdues the coarsest natures and chastens and refines the gentlest hearts. Self-sacrificing affection! What enmity or depravity can it not conquer? How surely, in God's good time, it must change the face of the world? How its brightest manifestation eighteen hundred years ago shines clearer and stronger through the lapse of centuries! How an innocent, unresisting personage, by suffering a death of terrible anguish, singly for the good of others, has awakened emotions never before excited in this world, and constrained allegiance to which earth and time can fix no bounds.

But humility too is power, patience is power-wonderful power to the teacher. In short, every Christian grace and virtue is power. Be a thoroughly good man or a good woman and your whole life shall be a life of power. Your words, your examples, your teachings, shall be powerful for good. And if to Christian virtues and graces you add an earnest purpose to fashion youthful character after celestial models, your efforts can by no possibility be in vain.

If, after proper consultation and reflection, our citizens decide to charge you with the duty of laying the foundations of integrity and uprightness more deeply and strongly with the children than heretofore, do not, my dear friends, shrink from the work on account of its difficulties or its magnitude. Modestly, hopefully, accept the trust. Take these children, all of them, the rich man's and the poor man's, lovingly to your hearts, and train them for God and our country. The end of the labor you nor I may ever live to see. The beginning only is for us and in prayerfully and perseveringly beginning it you shall find “strength equal to your day.” With an earnest purpose to be successful, you shall find difficulties vanish before you like mists before the morning sunshine. My sister, my brother, you shall not meet these solemn responsibilities single-handed and alone. You shall not give your manly strength, nor your health and womaply grace and beauty, to this great public service, while others may revel in freedom and sunshine, without a full equivalent. Good men and women will sympathize with you and encourage you. Fathers and mothers will bless you.

will bless you. Children, many children, shall love and honor you. Angelic spirits shall look lovingly, joyfully, upon your labors, from the abodes above. The blessed Redeemer shall be ever at your side-nearer than all earthly friends. The Infinite Father himself shall shower his blessings upon you, and hereafter, in the presence of the countless millions who shall stand before Him, he shall say to each of you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou ivto the joy of the Lord.”

« 上一頁繼續 »