Imatges de pàgina

The child must also learn the history of his own country. But this should be written or told directly with a parpose-always truthfully, but still with an aim. Could not a child be taught to feel the value of toleration, the value of industry, the value of conscience, the value of obedience, the value of earnest religious conviction, and receive other such impressions, from many accumulated examples taken from British history?

And, finally, there is the teaching of religion. This is, of all subjects, the most important, and yet it is one to the methods of which almost no consideration is given. What is teaching religion? It is teaching men to love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves. All religious teaching fails if we do not awaken love. It is not knowledge that is the aim; and all instruction that does not directly tend to bring into action love towards God and man is simply useless-nay, it is worse than useless, it is obstructive. This is too wide a subject to discuss here, but I shall quote two passages from Dr. Roth's book on Gymnasial Pædagogik, which will show how religious instruction may be uneducative, that is, not produce religion. “Those teachers who handle the subject in a systematic order," he says, "encourage their scholars to make syllogisms. 'All men are sinners. I am a man; therefore I am a sinner.' Now if the scholar thinks even so far, will he be awakened thereby to a longing for the forgiveness of his sins? Just as little as if you were to try to persuade a sick man, who has no desire to eat, that he is hungry. Far more likely the scholar, who has been brought to make the syllogism, will be set at rest in regard to his own sinfulness by the thought of the universality of sin.” “Assuredly at the examinations made by our youths at their departure for the university, they show so much theological learning, such deep glances into the secrets of the kingdom of God, so thorough an acquaintance with the Scripture, that I look back with shame on my youth; but yet their belief in the existence of God, of the immortality of their own soul, is a matter of the utmost indifference to them. We can see nothing of a firm permanent direction of the heart to God; of a conscious morality of the heart based upon principles.”

GOOD TEACHERS AND WISE INSPECTORS. That instruction may bring out all the powers of the child, and form char. acter as well as train the intellectual faculties, the schoolmaster must be a man of considerable culture, possessed of insight into human nature, and especially young human nature, well acquainted with the best methods of train. ing, and having a high aim for his own life and a noble moral tone in his own conduct. For here it is not the quantity of instruction that is of consequence so much as the quality, provided it be varied enough; it is not the amount of information given, but the interest excited; not the truths mechanically conveyed, but the living and abiding impressions produced on the soul. The teacher has really a cure of souls committed to him. Once find the right man, and he must be trusted in the discharge of his duty. He must be allowed to choose his own ways and means within certain limits; he must study the individuality of each pupil, and vary his mode of action accordingly; and he must have nothing to distract him from the great aim which must guide all his activity. Along with the good teacher we must have good inspectors, men of larger experience, of still greater culture and reach of thought. These should not watch over the teachers as if they were suspected characters; but they should be able to advise them in difficult cases, set them right when they pursue wrong methods, encourage them when they may despond, and help them in every way to carry out the true end of their vocation. With such a body of teachers and inspectors, the school might do a vast deal, in fact could not help doing a vast deal, to diminish the crime of the country, to ameliorate the condition of the people, to make the country better, and wiser, and happier.

THE REQUISITES OF THE REVISED CODE INSUFFICIENT. The great aim of the school is not touched in the Requirements of the Code, which only reaches certain results in reading, writing, and arithmetic, which may be acquired without any educative influence. The learning to read and the learning to write are mechanical operations. In learning to read the child is engaged simply in connecting an outward visible sign with a certain sound. In learning to write he is learning to indicate certain sounds by visible signs. The whole activity is external. As far as the Revised Code is concerned, the child need not understand a single word of what he reads or writes. The only educative power which the operation possesses arises from a defect in our language. Our signs are variable. The same sound may be indicated by different symbols; and sometimes the same sounds represent different thoughts, and are expressed by different symbols, in which case the child must learn the meaning to be able to give the symbols. But in all other cases the process is mechanical. “The appropriation of the language itself, as such,” says Beneke, “having reference only to the external, produces immediately and by itself no mental gain.” And this is repeated by all who have written on the methods and object of education.

There is a little more educative power in arithmetic, yet it is small. Arithmetic furnishes the pupil with models of clearness, precision, and certainty; but the ideas contained in it are few. Indeed, the whole of arithmetic is a mere expansion of one and one make two, and one from two is one. That is all the idea that is in it.

But reading and writing might be so taught as to be educative. If, as should always be the case, the arts of reading and writing are taught with special application and reference to the ends for which they are acquired, vast spiritual benefit might be got. But here comes in the Revised Code, and presents a factitious end to the schoolmaster. The one thing he is to do is to make pupils read and write and cipher, and the one end proposed for him is a certain amount of pay. Drive his pupils into the standards anyhow, irrespective of the full training of the mind, and Government will be satisfied. But what will be the result? The interest in knowledge is destroyed, the individuality is neglected, the moral tone is overlooked, and the one power of learning to read and write, urged on by force, and accomplished mechanically, will very likely soon pass into disuse in many cases, and be lost, or be employed for the lowest purposes.

It seems to me that the plan of distributing the public money in Scotland ought to be totally different. A minimum income should be fixed for all teachers, ample enough to get good men. Where the local rates, say at twopence per pound, and the fees, are sufficient to provide this income, the Government should give no aid directly to the school. But when a parish is poor, the income of the teacher should in all cases be made up by Government to the minimum, and the Government would thus step in where aid is really needed. Government should also pay all the inspectors, and any other general expenses.

HIGHER SALARIES AND TRAINING MUST GO TOGETHER. You cannot get men in an instant to become teachers. You must begin with them at an early age; if a boy does not see his way before him for a profession in this direction, he will not train for it.



END AND MEANS OF TEACHING. In organizing a National System of Education, and providing guarantees for its efficiency, we are inevitably tempted to narrow the sphere of education to the limits within which our tests are available. The examination test is far from being a complete test of educational results. Yet it is upon this we are constrained mainly to rely when we would take measures to secure a high standard of teaching. Consequently, from the earliest stages of preparation for the profession, the young teacber has abundant inducement to think that every thing depends upon the amount of knowledge he acquires, and the amount he afterward communicates. The course of preparatory study favors this view. The fixed curriculum, the uniform examinations, the standards of excellence, the certificates of first, second, and third class, intended to indicate professional rank—all of them quite essential, every one will allow—tend to encourage the conviction that education is concerned only with knowledge. The certificated teacher has the requisite amount of instruction, and is by inference a competent instructor. He has attained what is essential for professional engagement. Teachers need to guard themselves against this narrowing of their professional aims, and dwarfing of their own intellectual and moral nature.

Even if the end of teaching be restricted to the communication of knowledge, it is plain that the possession of so much information is not the only requirement for instructing others. Knowledge of grammar, geography, history, and modern languages does not constitute any one a professional educator. While yet on the benches of the students' class-room, the candidates for office are constantly led to distinguish between knowledge and teaching power. They find a difference among instructors. It is not always the man who

* On Teaching : Its Ends and Means. By Henry Calderwood, LL.D. Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and Chairman of the Edinburgh School Board. Edinburgh : 1874. 144 p.

Contents :-Introduction. I. Self-Government. II. School Discipline. III. Instruction. IV. Formation of Character. Conclusion.


knows most who proves himself the best instructor. The beginner in teaching needs to carry with him the recollection of this differ

When he passes from the students' bench to the position of command on the floor of the class-room, he obtains fresh evidence every day that inuch more is wanted there, than is implied in drawing upon his stores of information. The test of practice brings out · what written examinations had not previously discovered, but had rather obscured. New demands come with the practical work of teaching. He must be his own teacher in the art of teaching, while be is engaged in the practice. Even by his failures, as well as by such success as he is able to command at first, he must learn to rise to higher success.

The learning to which I refer is something very different from the continued study of books. Such study will secure a fuller knowledge and a higher culture, but the learning which is even more needful for the teacher is to be gathered by practice in teaching under carefully maintained self-observation. He who would succeed as a teacher must be a censor over his own practice. He must be thoroughly interested and observant as to his own success. As Dr. Arnold admirably said, when inquiring about a master, 'I prefer activity of mind and an interest in his work to high scholarship, for the one may be acquired far more easily than the other.'

Further, however, it must be considered that the communication of information is not the sole end of teaching. A simple test may satisfy any one that a higher task has been by common consent assigned to the teacher. If the pupils of any school are rude, reckless, and riotous, the school management bears some considerable amount of blame. The common verdict in such a case, is quite decided. Public opinion expects more than knowledge as the result of school attendance. The more this matter is considered the more obvious it will become that the expectation is just. I do not say that the teacher is always fairly judged in this relation, nor do I say that the expectations of parents are always reasonable. Home training is the earliest training, and all teachers are in some degree dependent on what that training has been. Deficiency here shows itself quickly at school. It is unreasonable to expect that school training can altogether make up for neglect or mismanagement at home. No doubt the school must some how or other protect itself from the evil consequences which flow in upon it because of a breakdown in home rule. In such cases, however, a burden is thrown upon the teacher wbich he should not in fairness have had to bear. Accepting, however, his responsibilities, encumbered with all the disadvantages which may gather around him, the teacher undertakes to exercise supervision over the deportment and conduct of the pupils.

The combination of such supervision with instruction is the greatest service the teacher can render to families and to the State. In the humblest sphere the teacher may claim this great work as his own. In a National System of Education, proper training of the children becomes an important end. Modern civilization wisely rejects the Platonic idea, that children should be more the children of the State than of their parents. The unity of national life is found to be most secure in the recognition of the sacredness of family life. At the same time, however, we can see the loftiness of aim and motive which made Socrates and Plato seek the good of the State, in the goodness of her citizens. In this we reach the rootidea, made grandly conspicuous by the Christian system, that goodness of character is the end of life. The teacher, then, seeks a grand result when he labors to contribute toward the formation of good character in the young, helping them to fight bravely against temptation, and to persevere in the way of rectitude through all difficulties.

What the nation is looking for is a sound moral training, along with instruction, and by means of all the accompaniments naturally attendant on the instructor's work.* If the nation is disappointed in this, it loses the higher of the results it looked for when setting in motion a complicated and expensive machinery. It has given the whole teaching profession a higher status-an immense gain in itself, but, by the same act, it has imposed a more extended and more visible responsibility upon the profession. The success of school training is to be tested by the moral condition of the nation in after years. The nation desires not merely that the memory of the children be well stored, but that the intellect be developed, and habits formed which may remain as capital to draw from when the work of life must be done. The great difficulty of our modern civilization, bred of our keen competitions, clash of interests, crowding together of multitudes of people, and consequent craving for excitement, is a waning morality. It meets us in all the narrow lanes of our cities--lanes which we Scotch naturally describe as "closes.' In these piles of building, vice rather than poverty spreads out the signs of human wretchedness. In these shelters of misery, multitudes of children have all that they can call a 'home. The attractions of home-priceless to us-are altogether unknown to

• The German view of this matter is well put in these words : ‘Primary instruction shall have før its aim to develop the faculties of the soul, the reason, the senses, and the bodily strength.

« AnteriorContinua »