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aim will have been effected, if that have been called into action, and attain even the incipient energies of future good habits; although nothing remain upon the memory to manifest immediately the effect of the discipline which has been in exercise. Thus far considered, the end to which this mode of education is directed will be in a great measure answered, if the child leave the school with the affections and feelings of his heart improved ; if, in connexion with that which is “excellent and of good report,” he be under the influence of a more cheerful and contented view of human life than is generally present in the mind of persons in his station; if he be prepared to receive future instruction, not only with pleasure but with facility; and, above all, if he bear away with him the seeds of true religion and morality.
I would not, however, be here thought to imply, that much more than this may not, in very many instances, be attained. It is truly important distinctly to recollect, that it is the object of this system, rather to prepare the mind for instruction, than to fill it with knowledge; and that, if it have a preference for one part of the human being above another, it gives that preference decidedly rather to the improvement of the moral feeling and the influence of true religion, than to the development of the intellectual
powers. I may now, on the other hand, remark, that, in endeavouring to produce both these results, as well as the others which are attainable, a judicious selection may be made of those things which approach the nearest to the future course of instruction which it is
proposed to pursue, and which may introduce it with advantage. It will appear, I hope, in the course of the following essay, that in this view of the subject, the system of infant education requires only the superintendence of those who are interested in that object, to be made highly conducive to the preparation of the children of the poor for the modes of instruction which are followed in our National Schools. They will enter those establishments, not, as is too often the case, in a state of nearly total ignorance, and with, at the best, unsettled habits; but prepared, at least, to think, to feel, and to obey. The ground will have been broken up, many of the obnoxious weeds removed, and the seed sown; and the diligence of the judicious instructor will, in-consequence, meet with a far earlier, and a far more satisfactory reward.
The eventual efficiency, indeed, of the system of infant education must depend almost entirely upon the cultivation which the mind of the children afterwards receives in the parochial schools: and it derives its peculiar suitableness
to the present state of society, from the active and interested attention which is now given to those excellent establishments. It would be highly desirable, that, with every school for larger children, an infants' institution should be so connected as to be under the same superintendence. The education in the latter might, by this arrangement, be made to assimilate itself to the instruction in the former; and we might then reasonably hope, that although it should not be esteemed desirable to increase the range of their knowledge, we should yet send forth into society a class of persons, who, beyond the acquirement of the rules of right conduct would have their minds imbued with the love of moral excellence and religion, and their heart prepared, under the influence of the best principles, for all “ the changes and chances of this mortal life.”
The adaptation of this system to the principles and the intention of our church, cannot for a moment be doubted by those who have been accustomed to contemplate her anxious solicitude for the religious welfare of all who may be included within her pale. She commends, in language of interested affection, the infant which has received the initiatory rite of the christian covenant, to the care of those who are supposed to be best able to direct the earliest
efforts of the awakening mind. She enjoins them to teach the child, “ so soon as he shall be able to learn,” the solemn obligations which are upon him. And she thus forcibly suggests to our consideration, the beneficial effects which must arise, if every age of human life had its appropriate course of instruction, and if
every order of the christian community were effectually imbued with the principles of their holy religion. To anticipate all these results from the introduction of any one system, would be little better than a fond conceit of theory and speculation. That
very much has already been done by the course of national instruction which has lately been pursued, is within the notice of the most casual observer. It may be permitted to one, who has had some little experience of the effect of Infant Schools, to remark, that they afford every reason to hope that, if encouraged by those who are best able to promote the system by their countenance, and to give it to general acceptance, they will tend to make the success of the parochial schools yet more decisive, and to enhance, by much, the blessing which is confessedly communicated to every class of society, by the almost universal education of the poor.
S Y S T E M,
THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF THE SUPERINTENDANT
ON A SCHOOL OF INFANTS.
The authority of the Master, in an assembly of whatever number of Infants, under the age of seven years; as it is the first question which must occupy his mind when entering on the duties of his office, so it will, with propriety, first fall under our notice in the following treatise.
Now, a direct appeal to the reason of a child, of the average age of those admitted into these schools, can hardly be expected to be effectual. The instances to the contrary will, at any rate, be so rare, that it would be manifestly unsuitable to recommend this, as an adequate