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TO THE PARONTS.
A BOOK of Lessons can hardly do more than furnish the materials of instruction in some ready form. The use of the materials will ever be the work of the Teacher. The best possible bricks will never make a house without a builder who knows how to place them. All influences which act
upon the child, help to educate the child. The Father and Mother will be most with the child. their manners, their tempers, their mode of talking, their way of acting will be among the most active influences which operate on a child. They therefore will teach it well or ill, whether they mean it or not. The Mother and Father will be real Teachers to the child whether they know it or not. What they therefore are sure to do somehow, it is worth their while trying to do well. The child's character will be in a great measure formed by them: they had better therefore come to some resolution as to how it shall be done. The source of moral character is in the feelings, and the parents have great control over these.
Let them take care that they are pure, and strong, and cheerful. The first notions of a child go far towards making his fortune or fate in life. Then let the parents take what care they can to cause these first notions to be true.
A public speaker knows very well that if he, in opening his remarks, employs words of double meanings, or words above the comprehension of his hearers, that he will confuse and puzzle them—and while they are trying to guess what be intends to say, or make out what he has said, they lose the thread of the discourse. And they begin to despair of understanding him, and they cease to attend to him, and lose interest in what he says, and are content to catch a little now and then. A speaker makes a great mistake who suffers this. Children are in the same state with respect to their parents. As far as possible, little children should only hear that language which they can understand. All talking to them should be in simple words, and trouble should be taken to explain the meaning of each word of importance to them.
An official school report stated that “the lessons written for infants have generally been, both in language and subjects, above the comprehension of infants."* This warning, which is not yet out of date, led the compiler of this little book to use the utmost simplicity he could, compatible with instruction. The illustrations are intended to amuse, and the matter to instruct. The language is the simple language: of children-the ideas are the ideas of things. There are repetitions (without which discipline is impossible); but the repetitions are veiled under varieties. There are distinctions (without which knowledge cannot be accumulated); but the distinctions are plain and broad, and the words taught belong to familiar objects of in-door life and outdoor nature.
A very little child can make a “straight stroke" and a “ round O.” These two, I and 0, an upright straight line and a circle, are the foundation of the alphabet.
I and 0 put together in several different ways make up all the letters. Out of these two easy ideas all the letters (in a child's thoughts) may be made to grow. And this mode of teaching is of some value. The recurrence of one or two ideas in all letters awakens the sense of coherence. It helps to form the habit of tracing many things to one or two rules, which is the beginning of reasoning.
* Central Society of Education. By C. Baker, 1839.