Imatges de pÓgina
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ates into the process of learning, which is to be continued in all after life. The educator of youth does not merely communicate 80 much instruction from year to year; he develops the receptive and acquisitive tendencies of mind, which are afterward to play their part in the intellectual activity of the nation. He trains the intelligence of those who are afterward to be the teachers of others, as well as of those who are only to be interested inquirers after truth.

Natural Curiosity. Curiosity is to be utilized as the corrective of restlessness. To awaken expectation-to keep it alive, and even to add to its strength by that which it feeds upon-is to succeed in teaching. Here arise several considerations deserving notice from the schoolmaster. Children are most susceptible of what comes through the senses. It is therefore a great point gained when the eyes as well as the ears of the pupils can be kept in exercise during the lesson. To reach the mind by double avenues at the same moment is to increase the chance of success. The value of sight as an agency of instruction is generally recognized. However true it may be, in any case, that hearing may suffice to convey the whole truth, there is in every one a natural disposition to resort, nevertheless, to sight as a favor. ite auxiliary. Every one is conscious of the desire to see a speaker while listening to his statements. Every experienced speaker is aware that he sacrifices much of his power if he does not speak to the eye as well as to the ear. We all know how strong is the desire to watch the performances of the several members of an orchestra while we listen to the piece which they are rendering. In all probability we shonld more accurately realize the composer's design if we completely closed our eyes and simply listened, but the fascination of sight is too strong for most of us to make it easy to content ourselves with the feast of sound. This keenness of interest in what is seen is experienced by boys and girls perhaps even more intensely than it is by their seniors. Hence the value of the blackboard in all departments of teaching, up to the very highest; hence also the value of object-lessons for beginners; hence the greater interest commonly felt in observational and experimental science than in abstract thought. Every schoolmaster needs to give great weight to this consideration. Children universally desire to see their teacher while he guides the class-work. This desire continues powerful as long as the teacher continues to interest the children by what he says. As long as he succeeds in this respect, the eyes are bright, and fixed on the common center of attraction. So soon as his teaching becomes slow, monotonous, and wanting in intellectual energy, the eyes lose their luster, and begin to wander off from the common center. Thus it becomes obvious that the teacher must hinself be thoroughly interested in order to interest his scholars.

A timely break in the order of lessons may be of great consequence for continued mental activity. I venture to think that Time Tables, however important in themselves, should never be so rigidly adhered to as to prevent variation. Many disadvantages would be experienced if there were needless deviation from the fixed order of study. But a lesson may be specially difficult, and that must imply that it is more irksome for the scholars. In such a case it is a practical mistake to insist that the children must be kept on the strain quite as long as when the work is comparatively simple. “The Code' can hardly be expected to do any thing less than attach supreme importance to the Time Table.' But to measure school-work for all days of the year by the yard-measure, or by the clock, is to deny to intelligence its fit place in the schoolroom. It is of far more consequence for ultimate results that the teacher should observe and judge for himself as to the wisest distribution of the several parts of work for a day, than that all our schools come under regulation-drill, which would turn any slight deviation from the Time Table into a serious offense. By all means let us be saved from blind 'rule of thumb.' It is to be hoped that our national schools will not become circumscribed by rule in such a manner as to deter our teachers from exercising their own sagacity as to minor deviations which a regard to efficient teaching may suggest.

Considerable diversity of arrangements should appear in the adaptation of lessons to the capacity of children, in accordance with their age and advancement. Powers of observation are those first in exercise, and these chiefly must be called into play in the case of beginners. Those who devote themselves to infant-school teaching need a specialty of teaching gift. Vivacity of manner, aptness of descriptive power, play of imagination, facility in passing lightly and rapidly from one theme to others somewhat analogous, with strong delight in the simple unrestrained ways of little children, are the qualifications which specially point out the teacher suited in a marked degree for training those who are only in the earliest stages of school-life. Pictorial illustrations and object-lessons must supply attraction to the youngest scholars. The earliest demand upon memory should for the most part involve little more than involuntary recollection. It is enough at such a time if facts are recalled because the picture illustrating them is attractive, or the story connected with them interesting, or the tune pleasing to which the verses of a hymn or song are sung.

Those“ strong-minded” teachers who object to these modes of -“ making things pleasant,” as an unworthy and undesirable “weakness," are ignorant that in this stage of the child-mind, the Willthat is, the power of self-control-is weak; and that the primary object of Education is to encourage and strengthen, not to repress, that power. Great mistakes are often made by Parents and Teachers, who, being ignorant of this fundamental fact of child-nature, treat as willfulness what is in reality just the contrary of Will-fulness; being the direct result of the want of Volitional control over the automatic activity of the Brain. To punish a child for the want of obedience which it has not the power to render, is to inflict an injury which may almost be said to be irreparable.'

Passing from involuntary observation and recollection, children must make a beginning with voluntary concentration of attention. This brings us to the regular tasks, appropriately so named. The effort of preparation always constitutes a task, and in the early periods of school life a peculiarly wearisome one. Scholars must early begin the work of self-directed effort, success in which must regulate their progress, and determine their influence through subsequent life.

There is force here in what has been said by Mr. Thring: “It must be borne in mind that with the young memory

is strong, and logical perception weak. All teaching should start on this undoubted fact. It sounds very fascinating to talk about understanding every thing, learning every thing thoroughly, and all those broad phrases which plump down on a difficulty and hide it. Put in practice, they are about on a par with exhorting a boy to mind he does not go into the water till he can swim.'

Home - Preparation. As a general rule, it may be taken as beyond dispute that, for educational results, it is undesirable that the whole evening be set apart to lesson-learning. Responsibility for home arrangements devolves on the parents or guardians of the children; but the responsibility of adjusting the task to the recognized capacity and advancement of the scholars rests on their teacher. Many of the perplexities and trials which fall upon both teachers and scholars are the result of want of due consideration as to the amount of work assigned. If in the hurry of closing up for the day, a teacher, without much consideration, specify work more extended than

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ordinary, the result will be a night of gloom for the scholars, and thereafter a day of perplexity for himself. In such circumstances, the vexations of teaching are self-made troubles.

For Teachers in our Primary Schools it is specially important to consider the amount of home-preparation which may reasonably be expected. It seems to me altogether unlikely that satisfactory advance can be made in the work of education through means of . these schools, unless school-work be largely planned upon the admission that only slight home-preparation can be expected. A large proportion of the children are so situated at home that preparation of lessons must be very slight, and often completely neglected. It seems unwise to shun this admission; we must suit ourselves to the existing state of matters. Teaching must proceed largely on the assumption that the scholars are practically commencing the learning of the lesson when their teacher begins class-work. I do not incline so to view a teacher's work as to regard this position of affairs as occasion for special condolence. On the contrary, I favor the opinion, that in all cases it would be well if the classes in which primary instruction is communicated were conducted on the avowal that comparatively little is expected in the form of home-preparation. Even if lesson-learning were entirely restricted to school hours for the first two or three years of school life, I think we should gain and not lose in educational results. In the interests of health and physical development it is to be desired that the brain should not be subjected to continuous work for more than a few hours of each day. As far as possible, we should guard against the excitement of class-work flowing in upon the homes of the children, and

their sleeping hours. At present we have too much experience of uneasy restlessness of brain among young children. In the interests of the teachers of our primary schools, burdened as they are with the extra strain of maintaining the attention of large numbers of very young children, I would wish to see a saving of strength in teaching. Escape from the irritation experienced on account of the discovery of inadequate preparation would be a considerable help in this respect. There would be less fretting for a teacher (and it is fretting which most quickly exbausts the strength), by deliberately undertaking the work of teaching the lesson from the foundation. There would also be a higher training in the real work of teaching. Mere lesson hearing is a comparatively slight and commonplace exercise; but to lead the young mind into the knowledge to be understood and remembered, is an exercise in every way worthy of large knowledge and much skill.

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If learners are shown the true methods for reducing difficult combinations to their elements, many difficulties are taken out of the way. Mastery of the remaining difficulties will then prove a help for subsequent effort. This work of analysis is greatly simplified in later stages, if progress in elementary instruction has been by advancement on a careful system from the simplest elements of language to the more complex combinations. Intelligence is the avenue to memory. A passage may be accurately and rapidly read or recited, and yet not in any proper sense learned. The contribution to the real education of the child is comparatively small, unless the understanding is called into exercise. In education what may be described as a "local' or 'verbal' memory is of slight influence in comparison with an intelligent or rationalizing memory. Association.by reference to locality or verbal sequence is a temporary coherence, which generally breaks up when the occasion for it is gone. But if facts are contemplated, and truths are understood, memory keeps what it receives, and intelligence begins to utilize what it has gathered. It is therefore of the utmost importance that analysis become a familiar instrument in all educational work. The ordinary round of school duty gives constant opportunity for its use. In spelling, for example, to break up a word into its component parts is to bring the understanding into play, affording memory the aid it requires for accurately retaining and recalling that word.

Blackboard. The use of the eye to aid the understanding is of great importance in all analysis. For this reason the blackboard presents an invaluable auxiliary. Its use may seem to consume time; in reality it greatly saves time. What is made visible will be understood much more rapidly than what is merely explained in words. A word of several syllables written ont on the board in separate parts will much more easily be made familiar than if it be only looked at as printed in the ordinary lesson. Familiarity with the analysis of words will soon be gained in this way, rendering continued use of the board unnecessary, and setting it free for use at some other point of difficulty. There is no need to continue illustrations when writing mainly for those who are professional teachers. The value of the blackboard is not likely to be overlooked. The more a teacher can avail himself of all the avenues to the mind, the more efficient his teaching must become.

Combination of the Known and Unknown. When pupils are encouraged to make for themselves fresh combinations of things already known, additional progress is certain,

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