ePub 版

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, lest 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, perfect 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 cach 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 onr 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 sense 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 to 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 The opportunity for cultivating correct habits of conversation, which is afforded during the object lessons, does more than any other one thing to promote a good use of language in speaking. The children are uttering living thought and not text-book language. Their own habits of of using words come out conspicuously, and are made subjects of cultivation.

The more formal lessons in language were, in the main, admirably conducted. Here the teacher made use of objects present, or the conceptions of familiar objects absent, and accepted for the time any or all of the various expressions employed by the pupils to enumerate their ideas of the same action or event. Then came the question of a final choice among them all. A box was moved along the table, and the children gave“ The box moves, is pushed, is shoved, slides, etc.” A very large majority chose the expression "slides."

Occasionally the sentences and forms of expression had a bookish aspect, and lacked spontaneousness; and there were enough of these, if captiously seized upon, to make the method appear ridiculous. So again expressions and terms were sometimes evolved, which would not be out of place in a scientific treatise. These were accepted of course. But if used too frequently, they would seem like the coat of a young man placed upon a mere boy. These, however, at most were but spots on the face of the sun. The whole plan was admirable in theory and in practice.

The spelling exercises were multiplied and varied. The children had regular spelling lessons. They wrote words upon the slate. They wrote on the board. They spelled orally for the teacher when she wrote, and they spelled on all occasions.

On the whole, the view which Mr. Camp, the Superintendent of Public Schools for the State of Connecticut, a member of this Committee, gives of his observations on Object Teaching, were fully confirmed here. He says:—“Having had an opportunity to observe the methods pursued in Object Teaching in Boston, Mass., Oswego, N. Y., Patterson, N. J., and at Toronto and Montreal, Canada, and in connection with other methods in some other places, I will, at your request, give the results as they appeared to me. Whenever this system has been confined to elementary instruction, and has been employed by skillful, thorough teachers, in unfolding and disciplining the faculties, in fixing the attention, and awakening thought, it has been successful. Pupils trained under this system have evinced more of quickness and accuracy of perception, careful observation, and a correctness of judgment which results from accurate discrimination and proper comparisons. They have seemed much better acquainted with the works of nature, and better able to understand allusions to nature, art, and social life, as found in books. But when 'Object Lessons' have been made to supplant the use of books in higher instruction, or when scientific knowledge has been the principal object sought in these lessons, the system has not been successful, so far as I have been able to observe the results.”

In conclusion it should be said, that it is no small commendation of the system, that all the ground formerly gone over in the two lower grades is accomplished now in the same time, and that in daily sessions of five hours instead of six. The plan renders school life to the little children far less irksome than before. The teachers generally, who have adopted and practiced it, give it their unqualified approval, The Board of Education and their intelligent and indefatigable Superintendent see no cause to return to the old methods, but, on the contrary, are more and more pleased with its practical working. That the citizens of a town, in former years not specially noted for literary or educational progress, should from year to year sustain and encourage it, nay, take an honest pride in increasing the facilities for carrying it forward, is proof positive that it has intrinsic merit. And finally, that the State of New York should make ample provision to support its Training School, shows that the thinking men of the State see in the system something more than mere tinsel and outward show.

« 上一頁繼續 »