Imatges de pÓgina

asked, how does such light study agree with the numerous lessons arranged and referred to in this and the previous section? Our answer is two-fold. A small and easy portion of these lessons is given at any one time; for the total is the work of four years; and there is none of them which may not be imparted by insensible degrees, without approaching to labour or going beyond amusement. In most infant schools, the in-door occupations, we think, bears too large a proportion to the out, or, in bad weather, to the in-door recreation. The common practice is an hour's lessons and a quarter of an hour's play, alternately.* We should wish to see the children, for a much larger proportion than this, in the play-ground. However alternated, HALF THE TIME OF SCHOOL OUGHT UNQUESTIONABLY TO BE SPENT IN PLAY. There is no time for moral exercise in the brief intercourse of ten minutes' play, cut short by the hand-bell. The teacher, too, is insensibly led to devote himself to the intellectual teaching as primary, and to slur over the moral and physical exercise as secondary. This he has another temptation to do; the intellectual is the only exhibitable training. The teacher's ambition to show off the children's attainments, which, to gratify his own vanity, perils the bodies and minds of his pupils, ought to be unsparingly put down by the directors of an infant-school, and

* Such an allotment of their time cannot fail to be more or less prejudicial to children so young and tender. A better plan would undoubtedly be exactly to reverse the periods here alluded to. The excess of in-door study in infant schools has called forth much just reprehension from the opposers of such institutions.-EDS.

+ This observation is equally applicable to the system adopted in seminaries for adults, where half-yearly exhibitions are "got up" at the sacrifice of the pupil's health, and to the total neglect of a sound and useful education adapted to his wants in after life. In a majority of schools, the pupils are almost exclusively occupied, for one or two months, in committing to memory Greek or Latin plays, or entire eclogues of Virgil, who would gaze with vacant wonder if asked to enumerate the component parts of the air they breathe to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies or elucidate the most simple and beautiful of the organic laws. But this classical display of erudition answers the purpose for which it is intended: first, it gratifies the vanity and excites the astonishment of the parents, who, in most cases, have long since buried their crude and imperfect knowledge of the classics in oblivion; secondly, it tends to render them blind or indifferent to the deplorable ignorance of their children in every other branch of knowledge; and, thirdly, it ministers to the ambitious views of the master, who considers his fortune made if one tithe of his pupils distinguish themselves at the University. The film is now happily removed from the eyes of the intelligent portion of the community, and this barbarous system of "our fore-fathers" is about to be abandoned, in spite of the vigorous efforts that have been made by bigoted and narrow-minded advocates to uphold it.—EDs.

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forsworn by the teacher himself. There are too many Books for Infants. Infants require no books. Good books for infants' teachers are what are wanted; and these will tell them that they cannot give the children too much of the play-ground and its exercises, mingle too much with them there, or too much observe, and regulate, and guide, the dispositions which they manifest in their play-ground intercourse. We recommend to any infant-school teacher to be possessed of a copy of the work of an American writer, Dr. Amariah Brigham, On the Influence of Mental Cultivation and Excitement upon Health. In nearly every word of that admirable little work we cordially concur. No teacher can read it, and continue blindly to overtask the infant brain. It is a work which, properly understood, will not discourage infant schools, but prevent their abuse and perversion— will not supersede that early training of the dispositions without which they never will be trained at all, but will guard that paramount object from being rendered of less effect, by a course injurious, and often destructive, to the mind itself. We also recommend another American work, Dr. Charles Caldwell's Thoughts on Physical Education, a discourse delivered to a convention of teachers in Lexington; and Dr. Andrew Combe's Physiology as connected with the Preservation of Health, and also his Physiology of Digestion.* These four works should be the constant companions of every infant-school teacher. It may here be briefly noticed that Dr. Brigham justly holds that the exercise of the moral faculties or feelings is unattended with the dangers attending excessive intellectual labour, provided always that over-excitement and every thing that rouses selfish passions, such as rewards offered to emulation, or punishments addressed to fear, are carefully avoided."

The foregoing extract is followed, in the same treatise, by a section entitled, "Prevention of prejudices, fallacies, tyrannies, cruelties, unfairnesses, selfishnesses, bad habits, &c." The section is thus introduced :- "There is no part of the infant system more important than the field for watchfulness and exertion indicated by this title. There are no greater moral evils, or causes of evil, than that title enumerates. It is by judicious infant training alone that they can be warded off, and society defended from their conse

* We beg to add our tribute of praise to the excellence and practical utility of the productions of the three talented physicians here mentioned; those who have not perused these works are not a little in arrear of the times, and should, without loss of time, become acquainted with their contents.-Eds.


It is not meant here to specify every prejudice, bad feeling, or bad habit, which obstructs and deranges human affairs. A few only are enumerated as examples. Others will occur to an enlightened and moral teacher: and there are no points in the whole range of his labours where his reiterated lessons and illustrations will do so much good. He ought to vary the manner in which he presses this preventive moral teaching upon his pupils; he should attract them by anecdotes and examples; lead them by precepts, interrogatories, exercises; and ever and anon renew the subject during their total attendance at school, till habits of thinking and acting, the reverse of the unfavourable here referred to, shall have taken fast hold of their minds. The benefit to another generation of steady and unceasing attention to this one department of the infant school teacher's duties is incalculable. Here, then, follows a sub-section upon each of the following moral evils; and their anticipation and prevention is recommended in the very threshold of education. The love of war, and passion for military glory-national self-sufficiency and antipathy-religious bigotry and intolerance-false sayings-self-sufficient and false judgment -the spirit of contradiction-exaltation of every thing connected with self-conceited deprecation-pride and vanity defeat their own end-jealousy, grudging, envying, detracting-obstructing and injuring competitors-want of candour-tyranny, annoying the imbecile, provocation-derision-frightening-practical jokes, witches, ghosts, &c.-superstitions-the gambling spirit-cruelty and antipathy to animals-destroying inanimate things-stonethrowing-nuisances and nastinesses-want of consideration for others, and of civility-evil speaking and gossiping-pleasure in exercising the benevolent and just sentiments-prudential attentions and maxims-temperance."

Exercise on all these points for four years, when the mind is pliant and youthful confidence strong, would work a change on society, even in one generation, almost beyond the calculation of those who view that society only as it is now disfigured.

We have reason to know that the practical working of well-conducted infant schools is entirely satisfactory. In the appendix to the first and second reports of the Edinburgh Model Infant School, published in 1832 and 1835, are a series of incidents which occurred in the school and in the intercourse of the infants, which demonstrate that kindness to companions and to animals, and honesty and truth are practically exemplified, not in a few instances, but generally; and that cleanliness and refinement, respect for ornament,

attachment to the teachers, and other excellent dispositions, are established as the characteristics of the place. Numerous letters from the parents speak, in terms of unbounded gratitude, of the change produced in their children, and of the comfort and pleasure they enjoy in their society when they return from school, instead of the wearisomeness of their former company. Objections to the infant education system, all of which were founded on ignorance of its nature, are now fast disappearing. I have not heard of any objections worth more than enumeration.* The system, it is said, tasks the infant brain before it is consolidated, and will send the precocious, more especially, to early graves. I have already given a solemn caution that the infants should never be tasked; but that all their intellectual exercises should be light amusement, and instruction as an accessory. The objection is reasoning from the abuse against the use of such institutions. Dr. Brigham's work was laid hold of by the opponents of infant schools and by their supporters at one and the same time; by the former as an instrument wherewith to demolish infant education, by the latter as a guide to regulate and improve them.

Again, we have from many persons an admission that infant schools suit the labouring classes very well, but that no mother above that rank would or should part with her infant to be trained in a public school. She is the natural guide of the infant's first feelings, and conductor of its early education. Now what, in most cases, will the mother do? She commits the child, for many more hours than are demanded by the infant school, to a nursery-maida creature utterly without education, and often with the very worst habits. Even if the mother kept the child beside herself, the most intelligent and excellent mothers will be the first to admit that they cannot systematically train their own nursery morally. The mother wants the element of numbers, a variety of dispositions. This alone is an answer to the objection which admits of no reply. She cannot give that unremitting and systematic attention which infant education requires; she must delegate; and to whom can she do so more beneficially than to the enlightened, mild, and practised conductors of that well-regulated nursery- —as it was called by Lord Jeffrey-an infant school; where warmth, air, exercise, health,

* Dr. Caldwell, in his excellent Thoughts on Physical Education, expresses himself averse to the infant school system. We think, however, that his views on this subject proceed from a want of a practical knowledge of such institutions, and of their aim and objects.-EDS.

safety, are all in better hands than they can be at home.* I would advise the formation of an infant school of the middle and higher classes in each neighbourhood, to which the children may easily be sent and sent for, while their nurse's hands would be liberated for some hours for other avocations. To this course things will come when prejudice gives way, because it will then be seen that they


At six years old the pupil will join the juvenile school, and remain for the rest of the period of elementary education, namely, till fourteen at least, and a year or two longer if convenient or necessary. Here the real system, and the verbal incidentally, will be continued; all instrumentary branches will be taught; useful knowledge fitting for life inculcated; and the elements of science practically acquired. The sum total of elementary education during this period is so admirably concentrated in the prospectus of the educational course of bookst now in course of preparation by those benefactors of their species the Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh, that I cannot do better than extract the following passage from that document:

"1. Reading, at least in his own tongue; 2. writing; 3. arithmetic; and 4. grammar, etymology, and composition. That he may enter life with a mind informed respecting that Creation of which he is a part, and that society of which he is a member, and qualified as well as may be to perform the part which will fall to his lot, he must be acquainted with at least the elements of the following kinds of knowledge: 1. Geography, or the surface of the earth; 2 Geology, or the structure of the earth; 3. Botany, or the vegetable productions of the earth; 4. Zoology, or the animals of the earth; 5. Meteorology, the phenomena of the atmosphere: 6. Chemistry, the composition of the substances of the material world, and the changes which are produced by the action of these substances upon each other; 7. Natural Philosophy, the mechanical powers and relations of the material world; 8. Geometry, the sci

*We fear that, at present, many mothers who admitted the truth of this would be unwilling to part with their darlings out of their house, just at the time when their maternal feelings-phrenologically, Philoprogenitiveness— experience the most intense gratification in nursing, perhaps spoiling, their beloved offspring.-EDS.

+ Seven numbers are already published, and the demand for them has been very great. They are-Infant Education, Introduction to the Sciences, Rudiments of Chemistry, Elements of Plane Geometry, English Language and Literature, History of Britain and Ireland, Elements of Drawing and Perspective.

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