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in the mind of the teacher. The ideas and intention of these he will endeavour to communicate to his little charge.
CATECHISM.-If, for instance, it were proposed to the superintendant of an infants' school to instruct his pupils in the following part of the church catechism.
In baptism“ I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."
He would not commence his instruction by obliğing them to commit to their memory the words, which they could not possibly understand; but, by the most simple and easy lessons, he would first endeavour to communicate to their mind the intention of the several clauses of the sentence. At one time, he would discourse with them on baptism. At another, he would give them some easy explanation of the idea which is conveyed by the term “ a member of Christ.” He would speak to them then, on being « children of God.” And he might proceed to unfold the blessing attendant upon their being “ heirs of heaven.” If, by any means, after instruction many times repeated, he should be successful in his endeavours to convey in this way ideas to their mind, the process of learning the excellent catechism of our church would be simple and effectual.
THE SCRIPTURES.—In applying this course of remark to the sacred volume, the range which is before us is far more extensive.
The knowledge of the scriptures is one of the principal objects of the instruction in our parochial schools. To this point, also, the education followed in the infants' schools is directed, almost without the hope that any more than the first class, at most, shall be able to read any part of them with propriety. The mind of the infant is, however, constantly preparing for this desirable acquisition. In order to aid them in the technical use of the sacred volume, they commit to memory the names and the order of the various books; the number of chapters in each, and, in some instances, the principal subjects of the chapters. As an aid to the formal understanding of the contents of the scriptures, they are introduced to a knowledge of the narratives which are there to be found; the natural history of its animals ;* and its various tables as compared with our own modes of calculation. And it is presumed, that
See note B. at the end of the volume.
it may lead to a farther understanding of their purpose and intention, when they are informed of some of the more simple customs of the eastern countries; when the emblems and figures of scripture are brought before their eyes in the course of nature around them; and when the events of their own life are adduced as illustrative of some of its more important truths and commands.
ARITHMETIC.-We may follow the same course of remark concerning the subject of Arithmetic.
With the exception of the first class, which should, as much as possible, be assimilated to those of the higher schools, arithmetic, as such, does not form part of this system. It is proposed, rather to prepare the mind of the children for this study, than to communicate the art itself. For this
For this purpose, the principal effort which is made, is in the learning of number in its more simple combinations and proportions. Short calculations, which may be made without the aid of the pencil, will naturally follow upon this, both as an exercise of the power which has been communicated in the acquirement of number, and as a near approach to the art.
To these are added, the various useful tables
which must be committed to the memory, before any progress in arithmetic can be made.
It will be perceived, that the first of the foregoing processes, the acquirement of number, confers a twofold benefit. It strengthens the mind itself, expands the faculties, and is an easy mode of exciting the learner to the exercise of thought, while it prepares him, in the most effectual manner, for the arithmetical art. The latter has principal reference to his progress in higher schools.
Writing-It may be said of writing also, with the same exception of the first class, that as a distinct art it does not form part of the system of infant education. Letters may be reduced to elementary forms, which may be traced of a child and imitated without
any considerable effort. He will thus have acquired almost insensibly, the incipiency of the art itself; and when it may be thought right thus far to instruct him, he will, with perfect ease proceed to form and to combine the letters of the alphabet, and to write.
It will not be imagined, I presume, that it is proposed in this system, to place the subjects which have been mentioned indiscriminately before the minds of all the little assembly which
may have met under the roof of an infants' establishment. The children are admitted into these schools from the age of two, to that of their entrance into the parochial institutions, which is generally six or seven. They are therefore under the guidance of their first teacher during an average period of four years. If he be judicious, it will be in his bosom to arrange the subjects of instruction according to their age and capacities, and the progress of their education. On the first admission of a child, it may occupy some considerable period, for the little mind to accustom itself to the novel circumstances around it, and to catch the idea of the purpose for which it is there introduced. Quiet observation will soon assist the teacher in determining the place which the infant is to hold in the order of the system ; and he will not think the time lost, if weeks, or even months, are at first passed over without further progress than is made in the acquirement of order and attention. The first thing which will mark the opening intellect will be effort without success. When the child has however fixed his own place, and begins to manifest a propensity for one or another of the subjects which are successively proposed to him in the constantly recurring action of the school; the progress will be easy and natural through the whole course to the higher classes, and to subjects of more difficult attainment.