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reasons are assigned by those who make no attempt to teach the meaning, for their declining or delaying to do so. Want of time is one of the pleas most frequently advanced.

“ It is clear that when this apology is made, it is implied that the teaching of the meaning, or the instruction of the understanding, is a matter of secondary importance, and only worthy of attention after the higher object of teaching the sounds of words, or instructing the external organs, has been accomplished. It is forgotten that expertness in reading is of no value, unless accompanied with corresponding readiness and energy in understanding; and that of two individuals, one of whom has acquired perfect fluency in reading, but without comprehending what he reads, and the other, with half the degree of fluency, has acquired, so far as he has gone, a thorough understanding of words and contexts, the latter has made incomparably the greater progress in substantial and valuable knowledge, even when we give the other credit for so much intellectual acquirement as the mind will generally, by its own operations, obtain, without the aid or stimulus of direct intellectual instruction. If the truth of this proposition is admitted, it must surely be also admitted as a legitimate consequence, that a little instruction in reading, with the necessary intellectual training to make that reading understood, is better than much exercise in reading, without any intellectual instruction at all.

“ But the plea of want of time proceeds upon the assumption, that whatever time is devoted to intellectual instruction is lost to the attainment of reading and the other branches. The erroneous nature of this idea, however, is proved alike by reason and experience. The excitement of the

mental faculties, and the consequent interest created in the objects upon · which they are exercised, have an obvious and direct tendency, not only to

accelerate the pupil's progress in the department to which his attention may at the moment be more particularly directed, but also to increase the power, and facilitate the operations of these faculties in every other branch of study. This is the result which ordinary principles would lead us to expect, and experience gives ample testimony to the correctness of the inference. Those schools which are most remarkable for the intellectual character of the instruction, and where, of course, the largest portion of time is devoted to teaching the meaning of words, and the apprehension of the import of what is read, are also the most highly distinguished for the proficiency of the scholars in all the branches taught. And thus, in reality, more is done in every branch in those schools where the largest portion of time is devoted to what in others is left entirely undone upon the plea of want of time.

“ Another reason sometimes stated for not teaching the meaning, &c. is, that the scholars are not old enough, or far enough advanced. This has already been adverted to, and, probably, enough has been said to show how unwise it is to postpone the intellectual culture of the pupil,—the teaching him the habit of attending to, and understanding what he reads, until other habits have been formed, which, if they do not prevent, must seriously obstruct the acquisition of the other,-habits, namely, of employing merely

but if you ask them what they mean, they look very grave and hold their tonguesσεμνώς πάνυ σιγά. And so it is with letters. You may fancy they speak like sepsible things, but if you want further information, and ask what they said, they give again and again only one and the same answer. ... Is there not another kind of speech? • You mean,' replies Phædrus,'the word, nóyos, in the mind of the man of knowledge: that which has life and breath, and of which the written word would rightly be called the shadow.'-—'I do', said Socrates."-Sewell's Introduction to the Dialogues of Plato, pp. 195, 196.


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the eyes and the tongue, of reading without understanding, of being satisfied with the sound of the words, whether the ideas are acquired or not.

“But this reason, (the youth of the pupils,) is founded upon a false estimate of the capabilities of the human mind in the earlier part of life; an estimate into which the teacher is frequently deceived by the absence of that sympathy with his pupil's mind,—that power of figuring to his own the modes of thinking and impressions of the other, which has been elsewhere remarked as an essential element in the qualifications of an accomplished instructor of youth. It is undoubtedly necessary to adapt the words or topics to the tender years of the pupil; and it may be irksome and difficult for those who have never bent their minds or ideas to such a level to make the attempt. But the powers, both of thinking and of expression, betrayed by children in their familiar relations and intercourse, give evidence of their capability to exercise the same powers on subjects suited to their years, in school ; and the attempt to elicit them has never been made with discretion and judgment, without results highly gratifying to the teacher.” Report, pp. 54–56.

But where the master is content, and the children are doomed to tread the same dull mill-horse round of reading without understanding, and repeating by rote, even the meagre results desired by the advocates of this miserable “system” are not obtained.

"1. Little but words being taught, the reading is monotonous, and without intelligence, betraying that coarseness and rusticity, which indicate the absence of anything approaching to moral perception or feeling of the sense of the passage. To such a degree does this prevail, and in so undisguised a form, that in one school the lesson of the day was begun at the top of a page, in the middle of a sentence, where there was no pause in the sense, and not even the interruption of a comma; and in another, the Report states, that 'In defiance of all regard to the sense, each scholar stops at the end of his or her third line, whatever part of the sentence occurs there.'

“2. An utter inability to explain even the most familiar words, or to give any account of the passage read. To such a degree does this exist, that the mere asking of a question upon these points frequently excites the wonder and amusement of the scholars, who listen, and if they answer at all, do it with an ill-suppressed titter.

“3. The lessons have no reference to the mental power or progress of the scholar. He is found reading passages, of the general import and particular words of which he is as ignorant as of an unknown tongue. Children (and this happens very frequently, and cannot be too much regretted) who have not read the historical books of the New Testament, and are often unfit even to read them, are found labouring and blundering through the Epistles.

“It is unnecessary to point out the influence of the habits thus formed. The great object of instruction is not only not attained, but remains unknown to the pupil. His mind is taught to rest satisfied at the point where it ought only to be setting out. Learning, instead of an interesting and agreeable exercise, is a labour unrequited by the pleasure which ought to be its reward. And who can wonder, when this state of things prevails, that lessons are irksome, that there is no interest and no zeal, but studying is considered a task, and its cessation a relief?”'— Report, pp. 57, 58.

And so it is with regard to every other branch of instruction. Take arithmetic for instance :

“ The degree of proficiency in arithmetic generally corresponds with the extent to which the intellectual methods of instruction have been adopted. And, indeed, it is obvious that a boy who has been taught to exercise bis reason will nowhere find that power more beneficial than in this branch. The absence, indeed, of habits of reflection and active mental operation is the obvious and direct cause of the striking deficiency which is very frequently met with in arithmetical instruction. That deficiency is exhibited, 1. In the pupil's acquirement of formal and mechanical rules, without reference to the rationale or principles; and 2dly, In his consequent inability to work questions, for the solution of which the rules acquired by him would suffice, if he knew how to apply them. When the question is stated precisely in the terms set down in the book, he can apply the particular rule readily enough, but is reduced to a state of helplessness if it is stated in such a manner that the applicability of the rule is not manifest in the terms of the question; if, in short, there is wanting to the calculation anything beyond mechanical dexterity."— Report, pp. 70, 71.


Dunn's “ Principles of Teaching” is, in many respects, a useful compilation. We will endeavour to give some of its better parts yet more concisely than the compiler himself has done:

“ Most persons,” says Sir Walter Scott, “must have witnessed with delight the joyous burst which attends the dismissing of a village-school, on a fine summer evening. The buoyant spirit of childhood, repressed with so much difficulty during the tedious hours of discipline, may then be seen to explode, as it were, in shout, and song, and frolic, as the little urchins join in groups on their playground, and arrange their matches of sport for the evening. But there is one individual who partakes of the relief afforded by the moment of dismission, whose feelings are not so obvious to the eye of the spectator, or so apt to receive his sympathy. I mean the teacher himself, who, stunned with the hum, and suffocated with the closeness of his school-room, has spent the whole day (himself against a host,) in controlling petulance, exciting indifference to action, striving to enlighten stupidity, and labouring to soften obstinacy; and whose very powers of intellect liave been confounded by hearing the same dull lesson repeated a hundred times by rote, and only varied by the various blunders of the reciters. If to these mental distresses are added a delicate frame of body, and a mind ambitious of some higher distinction than that of being the tyrant of childhood, the reader may have some slight conception of the relief which a solitary walk in the cool of a fine summer evening affords to the

a head which has ached, and the nerves which have been shattered, for so many hours, in plying the irksome task of public instruction.”

And is this dismal state of things,—this dulness and noise, this heat and suffocation,—this punishment and grief, -necessary ? Not in the least. The school-room may be rendered a scene of enjoyment, even as is the play-ground ; but only upon conditions. And what are these? The first is, ability to govern by moral means. If a teacher insist upon ruling simply by the exercise of blind and brute force, he must expect to reap the reward of his folly in the uneasiness, vexation, and perplexity, which such a course will inevitably bring upon him. " A second condition is, a love of child

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dren. A third condition is, unflinching faith in the efficacy of early instruction as a means of moral renovation. “Regeneration" is the word used by Mr. Dunn : but of course we do not look for theological soundness or accuracy in a book connected with the British and Foreign School Society, and published by the Sunday School Union.* To proceed :

“Subordinate to these essential elements of happiness, are two other qualifications which may just be hinted at. The first is, the ability to interest children; a capability which mainly depends on the attention paid by the teacher to didaktik, or the art of communicating instruction. The second is, competent information; by which I mean not merely the possession of just sufficient knowledge to conduct the school, but such a complete and accurate acquaintance, on the part of the teacher, with the elements of what he has to teach, as shall give him the mastery of all its parts, and confidence in the correctness of his own instructions. Any branch of science which is not thus known, is not our own in any true sense. No man can clearly and simply explain to a child anything with which he is not himself well acquainted. To illustrate successfully, much more is necessary; a considerable share of information on many subjects is necessary to success in this department."-Principles of Teaching, p. 15.

We pass on to the fifth letter, the subject of which is “Didaktik," or the art of communicating.

“By this word didaktik, which the Germans have adopted from the Greek, I wish you to understand, the art of teaching; as distinguished, on the one hand, from their methodik, or science of methods; and on the other, from their pädagogik, or science of education, which includes the other two. It is the art of so communicating knowledge, that the pupil shall, as far as possible, comprehend, in all its relations, the truth sought to be imparted; and that, associating what is thus received with other and previous acquisitions, he may be led at one and the same time, to cultivate his original faculties, and to store his mind richly and permanently with valuable facts." -Principles of Teaching, p. 61.

We agree with this writer in considering it to be a great mistake to suppose, as many do, that, in order to make learning pleasant to the young,

difficulties must be removed as much as possible out of the way. Children delight as much in exercising their minds as their limbs ; provided only that which is presented to them be suited to their capacities and adapted to their strength. It is by teaching them to overcome difficulties, and not by teaching them to evade them, that we shall be most likely to create the interest we desire to call forth. As a general rule, it should be the care of a teacher to supply bis pupils from day to day with a succession of topics, somewhat beyond their knowledge, without being above their comprehension.

We leave this work by making one additional short extract, which is given in it from Gallaudet: “ They who would teach children well, must first learn a great deal from them.”

* “Grant that we, being regenerate, and made Thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit."— Collect for Christmas-Day.

Mrs. Tuckfield's “ Letters to a Clergyman” are distinguished by the same practical good sense with regard to the details of villageschool instruction, which marks her Education for the People. The principle which she chiefly insists on in these " Letters," is, that we ought to intrust not only the entire education of females to females, but also that boys and girls, till they are ten years old, may with advantage be educated together by females.

“The great principle I wish to establish, is the importance of calling forth a far greater degree of female agency than we now employin education; both with a view to improving the religious and moral education of the lower orders, and also of lessening the actual expenditure of educational funds. It is my firm opinion, not only that the care of infants of both sexes, and of girls of all ages, ought to be committed to women, but that boys under ten years of age may with advantage be educated by women. Boys may acquire in these preparatory schools, if well conducted, good reading and writing, and some knowledge of arithmetic, geography, and natural history. They may be exercised in the acquisition of a pretty copious classified vocabulary, accustomed to define words, and to express simple ideas accurately in writing; they may also have learned linear drawing, and singing from notation, and may be ready to pass into self-instructing classes in the regular boys' school. The amount, however, of intellectual instruction is not the point I have chiefly in view: women are certainly fully competent to learn and to teach all that is requisite for boys of ten years old to know: but it is in laying the foundation of future principles, exciting the first religious emotions, gently curbing the rebellious will, winning the heart, and obtaining an unlimited sway over the whole character by mildness and affection,-it is in all these respects, that women will be found far more powerful and efficient agents than men..... Besides this, there is one species of instruction particularly useful in the case of poor little boys under ten years of age, which women only can give; I mean knitting, netting, straw-plaiting, and coarse needle-work. This will be found uşeful, as a means of early instilling the principle that manual labour is honourable; and that children come to school, not only to learn to read and cipher, but to learn to get their living, in that state of life into which it has pleased God to call them. But the advantage I have principally in view, is a constant alternation of manual and intellectual labour; a point which, I think, by no means meets the attention it deserves. It should never be lost sight of in any stage of education. But especially before a child has reached its tenth year, all excitement of the brain should be avoided; and yet, from five to ten, it is peculiarly necessary to subdue the will and tranquillise the passions, by introducing habits of fixed occupation. Linear drawing and good writing may both be considered as manual labour, and are particularly fit occupations for young children. . . . Much good is done to the character by exacting some manual labour which requires accuracy, patience, and attention. ... Let the children feel, that from the moment they enter the school, a pains-taking habit of mind is required, and that however little is done, it must be well done. The moral effect of such lessons is great, and will influence the character through life. ... It is astonishing how much time is lost, how much harm is done in schools, by allowing, day after day, bad reading and bad writing. I have the greatest horror of bad reading, and a great desire to introduce generally distinct articulation and good reading over the kingdom. Poor children never open their mouths, never articulate distinctly, and never dwell on their words ; and a most slovenly utterance is acquired, which it is very difficult afterwards to cure.”Letters to a Clergyman.

NO, XIX.-N. S.


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