Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

teacher should endeavour to select those modes of expression which approach the nearest to the language of infancy; or, if this should be impossible, to model the lesson so as to excite some pleasurable sensation in its attainment.

Metrical compositions, for instance, are very frequently even more difficult of comprehension than the language of common life. They are, however, more easily committed to the memory, and are retained with greater facility by an infant, because they excite and bring into play powers of which he is conscious, and from which he derives a sort of involuntary pleasure. They are remembered as a rhythmical arrangement of sounds, rather than as words calculated to convey ideas to the mind.

Among other things, then, which will hereafter be mentioned, the memory of an infant may with excellent effect be exercised in the attainment of some of the more simple principles of number, or the various useful tables ; in learning some of the more plain moral precepts, the more simple texts of scripture, or hymns in the plainest and most familiar language; together with whatever else may, in the judgment of the teacher, be calculated to aid the future efforts of the child in the attainment of knowledge.

[ocr errors]

The JUDGMENT, also, as the subject of educa; tion, may be considered in two respects; and in the exercise of this faculty, the superintendant of an infants' school must arrange his subjects under two divisions. The former will regard only the exercise, or development, of the mental energy; the latter will direct that energy to some subject which has been entrusted to the

memory, for the purpose of future instruction.

[ocr errors]

It is, in the first place, of the utmost importance, in the correction and improvement of this faculty of the opening mind; to teach children to think and to speak, as far as may be possible, from a clear conception of those things which are the subjects of their knowledge. The subject itself is of little importance. If it be suitable, it will, almost necessarily, be puerile; but whatever it may be, the mode of thought and of expression should be, by all means, , correct.

He

In order to attain this desirable object, the teacher can be at no loss for subjects of instruction. may

commence, however, from those things which are present with the senses, which convey directly ideas to the mind, through the eye, or the ear, or the touch. He may next proceed to those which are absent; and in the progress of his attempt to call this faculty of his

D

!

little school into correct action, he may at last suggest to their inquiring minds those things which are contingent or possible. · Colour, form, posture, and other accidents of things, may be the subjects of idea, of comparison, and of judgment. The room around him, the garden, the fields, the common instruments of a life of labour, will offer those things on which he may lead forth the early energies of the infant. The arts also, as far as they may possibly be subject to the observation of a passing child, and the trades, by which the sustenance of their families is obtained, may in succession be brought forward; and he may be taught to think accurately, and, according to his capacity, and the small range of language which is possessed by him, to define correctly.

It has been hinted, that it will be necessary, at this early age, not unfrequently to commit to the memory of the infants that which they are unable at present, with any sufficient accuracy, to comprehend. Now this will also suggest to the teacher another field on which to bring into action the intellectual powers of the little multitude. · In the progress of discipline the minds of the children will become considerably more capable of instruction; and the skilful teacher, ohserving the advance of these mental powers, will endeavour, by every means which his ingenuity

may devise, to throw light upon those lessons which have been committed to the memory. Events will constantly rise to illustrate the moral precepts or the passages of holy writ, or the hymns which the child may have learned. Not one of these will he willingly lose. The memory, he will bear in mind, is the book of the intellect. And that which is written there needs, not unfrequently, as much of explanation and of personal diligence and thought, in order to its just comprehension, as would the passages of a scientific work if we were ignorant of the principles of the science.

MORAL POWERS.—Some difference of opinion seems to exist on the best mode of cultivating the moral powers in the early age of infancy. The question is one of the utmost importance, and one on which the success or failure; the benefit or the uselessness of the system of infants' schools, very materially depends. It cannot then be doubted, I presume, that howsoever ignorant children may be of the particulars of true morals, there is a certain consciousness of right and wrong, which is coeval with the first rays of rational light in the mind. It is the business of true morality to give practical force to these incipient energies, and to bring the habitual pursuit of that which is right, and the habitual avoidance of that which is wrong, to form a constituent part

of the active life of the future man : for it is contrary to all just analogy to believe that, although all other human faculties are capable of cultivation and improvement, the conscience will approach to its perfection-without adventitious aid. It would have been well for human society if the correction of this faculty had, at all times, formed one principal object in the education of the young; and if it had thus kept pace with the improvement of the intellectual powers, and the strength and have been given to the memory.

energy which

If, then, it be allowed that the cultivation and improvement of the conscience ought to form one important subject of the infant's education, the question will offer itself to us with increased interest. How is this important end to be approached ? Moral suasion, it is evident, can have little effect on infants. In like manner, the energies of the reason can throw very little light on their minds; so as to display the nature and the real character of those things which are right or erroneous. Nature herself seems to direct us to a higher source of influence from which we may reasonably expect the rapid improvement of this faculty, and its preparation for the many important duties of life. The consciousness of right and wrong, in an infant, very early attaches itself to certain natural im

« EdellinenJatka »