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LIBRARY OF THE LELAND Glow JRD . VivVERSITY.
JAN 16 1901
ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED
The following pages are sufficient to establish the claim of Mr. Hughes for Dickens as an educational reformer-the greatest that England has produced. It will be admitted that he has done more than any one else to secure for the child a considerate treatment of his tender age. “It is a crime against a child to rob it of its childhood.” This principle was announced by Dickens, and it has come to be generally recognised and adopted. Gradually it is changing the methods of primary instruction and bringing into vogue a milder form of discipline and a more stimulative teaching-arousing the child's selfactivity instead of repressing it.
The child is born with animal instincts and tendencies, it is true, but he has all the possibilities of human nature. The latter can be developed best by a treatment which takes for granted the child's preference to adopt what is good rather than what is bad in social customs and usages.
The child, it is true, is uneven in his proclivities, having some bad ones and some good ones. The true pedagogy uses the good inclinations as a lever by which to correct bad ones. The teacher recognises what is good in the child's disposition and endeavours to build on it a
teenth century, and therefore deserves to be read and studied by all who have to do with schools and by all parents everywhere in our day and generation.
W. T. HARRIS.
WASHINGTON, D, C., October 12, 1900.
Tuis book has two purposes: to prove that Dickens was the great apostle of the “ new education” to the English-speaking world, and to bring into connected form, under appropriate headings, the educational principles of one of the world's greatest educators, and one of its two most sympathetic friends of childhood.
Dickens was the most profound exponent of the kindergarten and the most comprehensive student of childhood that England has yet produced. He was one of the first great advocates of a national system of schools, and his revelations of the ignorance and the intellectual and spiritual destitution of the children of the poor led to the deep interest which ultimately brought about the establishment of free schools in England.
He was essentially a child trainer rather than a teacher. In the twenty-eight schools described in his writings, and in the training of his army of little children in institutions and homes, he reveals nearly every form of bad training resulting from ignorance, selfishness, indifference, unwise zeal, unphilosophic philosophy, and un-Christian theology. No other writer has attacked so many phases of wrong training, unjust treatment, and ill usage of childhood.
He is the most distinctive champion of the rights of childhood. He struck the bravest blows against corporal punishment, and against all forms of coercive tyranny toward the child in homes, institutions, and schools, even condemning the dogmatic will control of such a placid, Christian woman as Mrs. Crisparkle. He demanded a free, real, joyous childhood, rich in all a child's best experiences and interests, so that “childhood may ripen in childhood.” He pleaded for the development of the individuality of each child. He taught the wisdom of giving a child proper food, and he showed the vital importance of real sympathy with the child, not mere consideration for him. He was the English father of true reverence for the child. ... But Dickens studied the methods of cultivating the minds of children, as well as their character development. He exposed the evils of cramming more vigorously than any other writer. He taught the essential character of the imagination in intellectual and spiritual development. He showed the need of correlation of studies, and of apperceptive centres of feeling and thought in order to comprehend, and assimilate, and transform into definite power the knowledge and thought that is brought to our minds.
It is said by some, who see but the surface of the work of Dickens, that his work is done. Much of the good work for which he lived has been done, but much more remains to be done. Men are but beginning the work of child study and of rational education. The twentieth century will understand Dickens better than the nineteenth has understood him. His profound philosophy is only partially comprehended yet, even by the leaders in educational work. Teachers and all students of childhood will find in his true feeling and rich thought revelation and inspiration.