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9. The interference of committees and appointed visitors in the internal management of the school. This is too frequently the case where the list of visitors is large. One wishes the reading to be particularly attended to; a second thinks it of little consequence at present; a third is desirous of introducing a particular catechism; a fourth desires strict order; a fifth, a little more recreation. Thus, the teacher is perplexed, discouraged, and finally dissatisfied. How widely different would be the result, if such persons knew the importance of aiding, instead of discouraging their teacher-who has quite enough with the children to try his patience, and abundant exercise for every Christian grace. Visitors would be found of unspeakable advantage by strengthening his hands in his arduous work; by supporting his authority; by lending him works on education; relating any striking anecdote occurrent in the neighbourhood; and by visiting and comforting him or his family in the hour of affliction.
10. Neglecting to teach the children to read. This may also appear strange to many; but it is a fact, that some teachers have acted on the idea, that the Infant School is not the proper place in which to give instruction in reading -but that it is quite time enough when they enter the National or other schools. In this opinion we cannot coincide; nor is the world, we believe, prepared to receive it: the parent's constant cry is, (and we think justly so too) the book-the book.
The Book of Science. Second Series. Chapman and Hall. THE Book of Science is not only an entertaining, but a highly instructive volume: unlike too many of the ephemeral productions for youth of the present day, it does not dip into many things and give information upon none; but takes up highly interesting portions of science, and carries them out in connection; so that he who reads one finds himself prepared, in an important degree, for the study and comprehension of others. Thus, in this volume, chemistry, metallurgy, mineralogy, christalogrophy, geology, oryctology, and meteorology, are severally treated, but in such a manner as to form a kindred connection of the earth and atmosphere. Chemistry and mineralogy are treated, not only at considerable length, but also as introductory to geology; while the remaining subjects, though perfect in themselves, are illustrative of, and supplementary to, the important science above mentioned. Perhaps there is no science so much the object of public attention at the present time, as that of geology; there is none more calculated to call forth the powers of thought and speculation; and treated as it is in this way, in connection with physico-chemical science, a broad and comprehensive foundation its laid for it future prosecution by the student. The illustrations which accompany the volume are numerous, and excellent specimens of the art.
Hymns for Infants Schools. Darton and Harvey.
To write hymns or poems for the young is, of all things, the most difficult. There are more than fifty volumes extant of this kind; and out of the fifty, perhaps not fifty pieces could be selected which would have an effect upon the mind of a child, such as we would see produced. True poets are always true philosophers; but fine verse makers have less of philosophy than most people. To write a volume of poetry fit for "little lambs," is a desideratum; and a premium might VOL. I-Feb. 1835.
be offered for it by the government with as much propriety as it has offered premiums for specifics for various complaints, or for certain articles of manufacture. The moral songs of Dr. Watts are excellent specimens of what should be done; but who can do it? We want the intellect of a Shakspeare and a Milton, joined to the philosophy of a Locke, and the tender sympathy and simplicity of a Rousseau. The little book contains some good pieces, but their number is comparatively small.
"Poems for Children," by the same publisher, contain a few pretty pieces; and " Hymns and Sacred Poems for Children, by the Rev. W. Fletcher, F.R.A.S. R.G.S." seem to be written with much simplicity and effect, and perhaps come down to the capacities of children "more fitly" than most of similar volumes of the kind. In writing sacred poetry, and more particularly that of a devotional kind, much caution is required: the devotional poetry for children is generally anything but what it should be. Mr. Fletcher's volume is an important improvement in this particular, and is well worthy the attentive consideration of writers for babes and sucklings.
Gleanings from Many Fields. By the Author of Portugal, &c. A SERIES of little tales, written partly in the conversational style, full of interest, and adapted to the capacities of the young. Much interesting information is afforded in some of the tales, and a high moral tone pervades all of them.
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.—No. 2.
Report on the State of Education.-Infant Schools.
WE refer to the Evidence on Infant Schools this month, that we may make our information as complete as possible with regard to these establishments. It appears that the following evidence given by Lord Brougham, has been the subject of much controversy :
"I have observed the same disposition to follow our footsteps in other instances, as in that of Infant Schools, which were begun in 1818 by myself and a few friends (J. Smith, J. Mill, and the Marquis of Lansdowne were of the number), and they were afterwards taken up by the established church. I observe Mr. Wilson, in speaking of his excellent Infant School at Walthamstow (the best any where to be seen), says his brother had previously established one in Spitalfields, and that he believed there had been another. No doubt there had, and his brother having belonged to our original committee, had taken the plan of our first school, established in Brewer's-green, Westminster, the year before, and formed the admirable one in Quaker-street. Ours was under J. Buchanan, whom we obtained from Robert Owen's great manufactory at New Lanark. Mr. Wilson's was under Mr. Wilderspin, whose very able works on the subject have been of great use in promoting these useful establishments; but the first Infant School in this island (I believe in the world), was the one in Brewer's-green, R. Owen's, and Mr. Fellenberg's, which gave the idea, having both been formed in connection with an establishment, manufacturing or agricultural, and so necessarily confined in their application; ours being every-day schools, where the children are neither fed, nor in any way helped, except by instruction and training."
This evidence having appeared in the Times, Robert Owen, of Lanark, addressed a letter to his Lordship, in which he claimed the honour of establishing the first Infant School at New Lanark, in 1816, two years prior to the one established in Brewer's Green. Lord Brougham, in reply to this, observed, that in all probability, the Infant System would never have been established but for the New Lanark schools; and that the only step in the invention claimed for it in his evidence, was the applying it to day schools; marking it as a distinction that Mr. Owen's school, as also the one of Fellenberg's, at Hofwyl, were both attached to other occupations; one being a manufacturing, and the other an agricultural institution. In reply to this, Mr. Owen contended that the school at Hofwyl, which was conducted by Vehrli, was not an Infant School, according to the commonly received sense of the term; being made up of children of eight years of age and upwards, able to work; and that the children at the said Infant School at Lanark consisted of children from fourteen months old, to the age of six years. This proves, as we think, very clearly, the fact that the first Infant School in this country was that at New Lanark ; and that R. Owen first sketched out a system and plan of instruction, although very different from what is now practised. There appears to be some difference of opinion concerning the effects of Infant Schools as preparatory establishments. The Rev. W. Johnson gives the following evidence :
"Q. 193.-Do you say from your knowledge of children from Infant Schools, that they are quicker than others?
"No; I have seen nothing of these schools that enables me to speak favourably of them. I find that the bad song that the children have learnt there, is more difficult to unlearn, than it is to teach a child that has not acquired that bad habit. The manner of teaching in these schools is very prejudicial to simple and effective reading."
Mr. Dunn, Secretary of the British and Foreign Schools, appears to give little better evidence on the effects of the schools.
"352.-The children are certainly better prepared; but not to the extent we once hoped. We find Infant School tuition is so much of an amusement that the children are not at first willing to work, or to make a serious business of their studies. The number of competent Infant School teachers is very limited. There is no society to which any one can apply for teachers; the consequence is, that masters and mistresses of Infant Schools have been generally recommended by other masters and mistresses; and sometimes from inferior motives."
Mr. Crossley, Master of the British and Foreign School, gives the following evidence:
"Q. 1106.-Do you find that the children are more clever who have been at Infant Schools?
"I find them quicker, and more voluble; they are less capable of restraint; they are more lively and wild.
"Do you object to Infant Schools properly conducted?
"By no means: I think them exceedingly useful, not merely as giving children information; but keeping them from much harm."
Evidence of a more satisfactory nature is, however, afforded by the Rev. W. Wilson, of Walthamstow :
"Q. 2182. How far does instruction proceed in an Infant School?
They can generally read the Testament when they leave the Infant School; the instruction is, however, generally elementary; the great object is to form the moral character of the children.
"Q. 2194.-Are you strongly impressed with the advantage of these Schools? "Indeed, I have had abundant reason to be so.
"Does the comparison between those who have received no previous education, with the children taught in the Infant School, exhibit the advantage of it? "It does: when they are admitted into the National school they begin at another grade; their desire of knowledge is also increased by the pleasurable form in which the elements of it have been communicated in the Infant School. "Are they more easy to teach?
"There are some few things to unlearn, perhaps, in going to a National school. Our National schools are now nearly formed of those who have had previous instruction in the Infant School. Before that was the case children coming from the Infant School soon rose to the first class.
"Q. 2215.-Has not the establishment of Infant Schools rather a tendency to encourage cleanliness?
"Decidedly: it is one of the proposed objects.
Besides the learning the children acquire at these schools, do you not consider that the habits of self-command and attention which they acquire are very valuable?—Surely.
"Q. 2280.-You are convinced that the advantages of Infant Schools are manifold?
"They are all that can be expected, considering the age of the children. "They are both positive and negative advantages ?-Yes.
Perhaps it would be as well to sum up the principal advantages besides the knowledge acquired?
"The moral discipline, in connection with the pleasurable emotion, under which the infants are constantly kept, is, at their age, an incalculable advantage: they attain habits of order, obedience, attention, and mutual kindness; they are taught to look upon the acquirement of knowledge as a source of gratification; it is much to pass the first years of life with just ideas of the proper sources of human happiness.
"Q. 2283.-Then its keeping the children out of mischief is another advantage?
"Yes: both physical and mental. There are many dangers and many temptations which they escape within the walls of an Infant School.
The Bishop of London, who has been actively engaged in Infant Schools, and who, from the lively interest he has taken in them, both as regards their establishment generally, and their internal discipline, gives testimony quite as favourable.
"Q. 2483.-Your Lordship has expressed an opinion favourable to Infant Schools: does that apply as well to the country as the towns?
"My own experience of them is principally confined to towns. But on principle, I should say that they are quite as beneficial in the country, because, in the country children are taken away from the National schools, at an earlier age than in the towns. I think it desirable to get hold of them as soon as we can, and to form them to habits of obedience and docility at the earliest possible age. The great advantage of Infant Schools, is not so much the quantity of knowledge attained by the child, as the facility of acquiring it, and the habit of attention and obedience to its teachers, as well as the improvement of its temper and bodily health.
"Q. 2502. Is it not the case, that children who have been educated in Infant Schools have a greater facility than children of the same age who have not?
"Yes; they come to the National schools already able to read; they have a greater facility of reading, and a greater facility of paying attention to every thing. I have been making inquiries as to the effect of Infant Schools upon the scholars who are drafted into the National schools, and they say they learn more quickly, and are better behaved. The only difficulty arises from thisthat in Infant Schools, an important feature is the bodily exercise of the scholars, and the combining a sort of mechanical exertion with the process of learning. In the National schools the children miss that excitement; but, upon the whole, there cannot be any doubt, that Infant Schools are an important preparation."
The latter part of the evidence, comprising that of the Bishop of London and the Rev. Mr. Wilson, appear much in contradiction to that of the Rev. Mr. Johnson and others, in the former part; but we may observe, that the knowledge of the subject of those who spoke unfavourably, or only faintly in praise of the infant system, was comparatively very small with that of the two last witnesses, both of whom have watched the system for many years-have been workers in it, and are therefore much better able to judge of its results.
To the Editor of the Educational Magazine.
FROM actual experiment, at Missenden and at Ealing, and other places, it has been clearly proved, not only that boys from eight to ten years of age, will cheerfully do the work of a garden during two or three hours per diem, but that both themselves and their parents are delighted with it. At Missenden, the boys receive three-pence per week each for their work, which is one penny per week over and above what they have to pay for their education; so that a sum of money is gradually accumulating for them till they leave school. It appears, however, that at Missenden, they have only one acre of land attached to the school. Now, I have long desired to find out a plan by which village day schools may be made to support themselves, without annual subscriptions, which cannot be got in country places; and I am quite confident that this may be done upon the profits which would arise from the culture of four or five acres of land, the labour to be done by the master and his boys. If the holder of allotments of land (see the Reports of the Labourer's Friend Society) can make a profit of 251. a-year per acre, including the value of his own labour, that being done by himself, I wish to know why a schoolmaster, assisted by his boys, cannot make a livelihood off four or five acres of good land attached to his school room: I am confident he could. The difficulty lies in obtaining masters who are acquainted with gardening, and who will devote themselves to the object fully: but I am sure such characters can be found; and I am fully persuaded, were some such active men as D. Capper, of Missenden; or Dr. Smith, of Southam, to undertake this experiment, it would succeed; and we should then find the great obstacle in the way of general National Education removed; and every village which could furnish twenty or thirty boys, might have its day-school, carried on independent of annual subscriptions; and, while the master was getting a good livelihood, and instructing his scholars in letters, they would also be learning the useful art of gardening, instead of spending their time in birds'-nesting, poaching, pulling down hedges, dog-fighting, &c., as is too commonly their occupation in our country villages and hamlets. Thine, truly,