Sivut kuvina

HEALTH.—I have placed health among the principal objects of a superintendant of an infants' school, not only because this is confessedly of the very first importance in children of the age to be admitted into these institutions, but also because the purposes of the system cannot possibly be answered without it. The system fails when the little assembly begins to lose the influence of vivacity and cheerfulness, and a lesson is not rightly taught if it have not been received with real pleasure. by the pupil. With a view then to this excellent object, muscular action is made a component and necessary part of the system. Every lesson is accompanied with some movement of the person. And these movements are so varied, that, in turn, the whole frame is at different periods called into action and restored to rest. The beat of the foot, the clap with the hands, the extension of the arms, with various other postures, are measures of the utterance of the lesson as they proceed. The position is also frequently changed. The infants learn sitting, standing, or walking. And when the lesson has ceased, and there is a pause before the commencement of that which is to follow, the period is given either to absolute rest and silence; to some simple air; or to the performance of some evolution, under the guidance and after the example of the monitor of their class. For a similar purpose a play-ground or garden, is

attached, wherever that may be possible, to the school-room; and for half an hour during each school time, when the weather is suitable, the little flock is turned out for amusement and play. There are, indeed, many of the lessons in which their minds are called into action, which may as well, and even with better effect, during the months of the summer, be taught in the open air, within view of the book of nature. But should the weather be unfavourable to these recreations and this mode of instruction, the ample space of the school-room affords every opportunity for sufficient exercise, and especial care is at all times taken, to replenish it with the purest atmosphere without exposing the little assembly to draughts

I may add to the foregoing, as in its measure conducive to the increase of the health of the infants, the frequently recurring lessons of cleanliness which are given to them. In order to infix the idea, and the love of it on their mind, the process of the morning purification is formed into an imitative lesson, which they perform unitedly, in cadence, to expressions similar to the following: “ This is the way we wash our hands; this is the way we wash our face.”

The success of these attempts to confirm the health of the infants, in the establishments whose

system we now consider, is not any longer a question of theory. They have stood the test of experience, and the result has been in every respect satisfactory. With the exception of the peculiar diseases of children, whose absence no system can possibly secure, health and cheerfulness have universally followed upon a constant attendance of the children at these institutions.

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If the reader have followed the course of remark in the preceding chapters, it will have been evident to him; that, the difficulty attendant on instruction in an infants' school arises chiefly in relation to the fixing of the mind, and calling it into operation on any one particular object.

Some general remarks may with propriety introduce to our consideration the subjects of this chapter.

In the first place, the instruction of infants should never be conducted in a manner calculated to excite weariness and disgust. The lessons should not be suffered to weary by their length, nor should they be delivered in a tone of voice approaching cold authority or the accents of anger. It is desirable, in general, to appropriate to each lesson the period of one quarter of an hour, and to shorten the lesson so far as to make it very possible to bring it to a termination in ten minutes. The remaining five may be passed either in rest or in some pleasurable action.

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The subject should be delivered in the most simple and childlike language. They who are engaged in the instruction of the

young quickly discover, that the reason of the failure of their purpose, to call into action the powers of their charge, is in the majority of instances to be found in ourselves, and not in our disciples. Our language is the language of manhood; or the question which we have put has not been capable of a simple answer. If, for instance, according to the plan proposed in this system, it is the intention of the master to instruct his little assembly in the nature of a particular metal, its origin, and the mode of its preparation for use; he will, in all probability, place a halfpenny before them. He will commence his lesson by asking some simple question. At first he may perhaps say, " Describe this." He finds the language to be above the comprehension of infants. He next asks them, “ What is this?" Now to this question many answers may with greater or less propriety be given; and the fault of the errors which may be committed will not be in the mind of the children, but in the incorrect language of the teacher. They may answer, “ It is a “ It is a halfpenny.”

It is metal.” “ It is copper.” “ It is round.” “ It is brown." He will perhaps meet their apprehension if he should on the other hand say Tell me, my dear children, what this is made

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