Imágenes de página

only been read once, or, at most, twice, according to the improved method, the contents have become perfectly familiar to the whole class. And to make them recommence would obviously much impede their progress, directly as well as indirectly. Hence, every few weeks, there is a call for a new book ; a call which must be answered, or education is at a stand ; but which, at the same time, becomes a serious tax to a large family in humble circumstances.

Happily, the remedy for this difficulty is equally obvious and simple. Libraries are money-saving institutions, mental levers,-bringing within the reach of the poor what was formerly considered the exclusive privilege of the rich. And nowhere can their effects be more beneficial than in a school. Indeed, they are indispensable to universal education. For not only do they reduce the school expenses to the merest trifle ; but they provide food for the craving, irrepressible appetite for knowledge, which has been created there. How can any one pretend to be friendly to a good universal education, and yet in opposition to district libraries? Why take pains to create a desire for knowledge, in the community, and obstinately refuse the only means of gratifying it? When you have given a person a taste for knowledge, and the means of gratification, he can hardly fail of being a happy man ; unless, indeed, a most perverse selection of books is put into his hands. He is placed in contact with the best society, in every period of history ; with the wisest, the wittiest ; with the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest, characters, which have adorned humanity. It is hardly possible, but that his character should take a higher and better tone, from the constant habit of associating with a class of thinkers, to say the least of it, above the average of humanity. It is morally impossible, but that the manners should take a tinge of good breeding and civilization, from having constantly before one's eyes, the way in which the best bred and the best informed men have talked and conducted themselves, in their intercourse with each other. There is a gentle but perfectly irresistible coer


cion, in a habit of reading, well directed, over the whole tenor of a man's character and conduct, which is not the less effectual, because it works insensibly, and because it is really the last thing he dreams of. It civilizes the conduct of men, and suffers them not to remain barba

Another of the great advantages of reading is, that it furnishes us with interesting and safe topics of conversation with our friends. To live with books is to inhabit a region far above the din, and turmoil, and petty vexations, which unnecessarily engross the minds of some, who pretend to cultivation. It is very difficult to talk of people, without violating the laws of charity and of truth; it is, therefore, best to avoid it. By substituting books, and the vast variety of characters and opinions which they present, ample scope for the expression of thought and feeling is afforded, for the discussion of various questions, for sharpening each other's wits by collision of sentiment, correcting the judgment by comparison and discrimination, and strengthening the memory by repetition and quotation.

School libraries ought to consist of two kinds of books : viz. books for the use of the school, and books for circulation. Of the former, there should be a great variety for the reading classes, and not more than four or five of a kind. For, as they will only be needed while the classes are reciting, one book will answer very well for two scholars. Of the books for study, such as geographies and treatises of written arithmetic, a sufficient number will be wanted, to supply one for each student. The remainder of the library should consist of a sufficient variety of subjects, from the simplest story-book for the child of six years, to the most valuable works on history, biography, poetry, miscellanies, and science ; with a sprinkling of the best novels of Scott, Cooper, Goldsmith, Johnson, Richardson, Miss Burney, Miss Austen, &c. A list of suitable books will be found in the Appendix.

The district library may be supported as follows : Let the sum of forty, fifty, or sixty dollars, or more, be raised by subscription, or by a tax on freehold property, for the first commencement; and let it be supported and enlarged 12].

by a tax on the scholar, or other inhabitants, at the follow-
ing rates, viz.
For each person, over eight years


every school-term of six months, or less,

25 cts. For each child, under eight, Every inhabitant of the district, whether attending school or not, to have the privilege of using the circulating library, by payment of the tax; but no books to be carried away by any one, till a bond from some responsible person was deposited in the hands of the librarian, for each person using them, to insure proper treatment, and the return of the books.

A deduction of twenty per cent. ought to be made, from the tax of those who own no real estate.

The reason for this discrimination is, that the library will actually increase the value of all the real estate, the owners of which are, consequently, the most interested in the establishment. The tax should be made payable in advance.

The district teacher should be the librarian. She should inspect every book, carefully, that was brought into the library, and take a memorandum of any injury that accrued to the books, for which proper fines should be levied. The librarian should herself be responsible for injury done to the books used in the school, it being a part of her duty to teach the pupils how to use the books, and to see that they are properly taken care of.

The purchasing committees of the several districts in the town ought to meet, occasionally, to consult as to the purchase of books, and appoint one purchaser for the whole town ; so that they might be procured at the lowest prices, and to prevent the same book being purchased for different libraries. Once a year, or oftener, they might meet, to make exchanges of books, by which each individual would have the privilege of using, at one time or another, all the books in town.

What an addition it would be to the happiness and welfare of society, were such establishments as these spread, universally, over our country! O, what a beautiful prospect for the true patriot, to see the fireside of every peasant made cheerful by the delights of science; to find, every where, the long, dreary Winter evening trans: formed into a season of delightful mental recreation ; to hear, in every cottage,

“ The poet or historian's page, by one

Made vocal for the amusement of the rest," while the other members of the family were busily engaged in their various useful avocations. The storm, truly, might rage without; but within, would be a holy calm.



Having now, in imagination, erected our schoolhouse in a pleasant situation, remote from noise and dust, in a lot of sufficient size for exercise and amusement, neatly fenced, shaded, here and there, with clumps of trees, decorated with flowers, and furnished with accommodations for healthful gymnastics; having constructed the building of sufficient size and height, on correct principles as regards heat, air, and light; with seats and desks so as to place the pupils of every age perfectly at their ease; with a woodhouse large enough to contain fuel for the Winter, and ample room over and above for exercise for the scholars in bad weather ; having provided an excellent library of books, for the school as well as for general circulation, slates and pencils for every pupil, however small; having made a good selection of a teacher, educated at an excellent teachers' seminary, who has engaged to devote her whole attention to the school, without limit, as to time; having established a correct system of discipline, founded on the best principles of human nature ;-all that remains is, to point out the proper mode of carrying into effect the principles laid down in the teachers' seminary, in details sufficiently minute, especially so far as regards the first steps, the foundation of education ; fully persuaded, that, if this be well done, there is little danger of failure in the higher branches. Let us, then, commence with a young pupil, as ignorant of literature as the negro child in Central Africa, and proceed regularly with him, through most of the studies of the primary school. For the sake of perspicuity, we shall not follow the child backwards and forwards, from one study to another ; but pursue each subject to its close, and then take up the next, and, when we have thus examined each subject, separately, close the subject by remarks on the order and arrangement of studies.

Reading and Orthography. Worcester's Primer is an admirable little book for beginners. We shall use it, therefore, as our First Book. Commencing with a child ignorant of his letters, we should turn to page 15, where we find pictures of a man, a cat, a hat, and a dog, opposite the corresponding names, in capitals, as well as in small letters. The teacher may commence thus : *

Teacher. What is that?
Child. A man.

T. That is the picture of a man. Would you not like to know the word man ?

C. Yes.

T, (pointing to the word.) There it is. Look at it well, that you may know it, again. Now, do you think you shall know it?

To this question, the child generally answers, yes.

T, (turning to page 17.) Which of these words (pointing to Man, Dog, Cup) is Man?

Unless the child has been brought up in habits of attention by his parents, his heedlessness will be apparent, by his ignorance of the word. And this will generally be the case.

So, turning back to page 15, the teacher

can say,

* In order that what follows may be fully understood, the reader should have a copy of the Primer before him, and turn to the pages indicated.

« AnteriorContinuar »