« AnteriorContinuar »
my countrymen to give me a fair trial-an opportunity to show what I can do, not what I can say, and not drive me into a foreign land to develope a plan of Teaching Infants, which I fain would do at home. I could wish to have made a few observations on the evidence given before the Committee of the House of Commons, on Infant Schools. It is quite evident that better information could have been obtained. The Walthamstow School, so highly praised, was opened by me: I laboured hard for weeks at it, had several public examinations before I left, and could have given better proof on the subject than appears in your extracts. The National Schools must greatly improve before they are capable of taking my infants; and I would not be afraid of taking five hundred infants into the House of Commons, and exhibiting them before all the Members; and if they did not outdo many of the children twice their age, in some of the National Schools that I have visited (I don't say all), I would suffer myself to be horse-whipped out of the House. I yet have a lingering hope-a still small voice within me bids me go on, and that the time shall come when the chance I have so earnestly prayed for will be given me. Before I close this letter, permit me to notice an observation made in page 127. In reviewing a book compiled by two Infant Teachers, you take upon you to say, that it is the best of all the books that have been published on the subject. I take it for granted you must have read it as well as all the others, and will not dispute your judgment on this matter for the present, except the third section, page 128, where it is said that "one cause of failure in Infant Schools is, employing a person to organize the School and instruct the Teachers at the same time." This plan we are told is decidedly bad. And who tells us so? Why a pair of compilers-men who followed in the steps laid down for them by others, and who have the effrontery to charge all who differ in opinion from them, as having no other motive to action but that of self-interest. Sir, I say the plan is decidedly good. I call upon the numerous and respectable audiences in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dingwall, Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Bath, and scores of other places, who witnessed the examinations of the children, and the efficiency of the Teachers, who had been instructed by me in this way, to bear me out in the assertion. I call upon the able and talented Masters in all parts of Scotland to refute this; and I might appeal to some of the most learned, and some of the greatest men now living, in confirmation of what I advance; and although knowledge may not have unfolded her ample page to me, with that liberality she seems to have done to these two Goliaths, yet I humbly hope I possess the means, if necessary, to prove that these charitable Compilers are, in this instance, in error. I am, Sir, your obedient Servant, Wigan, Lancashire, May 25th, 1835. SAML. WILderspin. [It gives us much pleasure in inserting this letter of Mr. Wilderspin-we think it a fair and candid answer to most of the observations to which objections are made. We should like to have a copy of Mr. Wilderspin's Manual, and a set of his Lessons for Infant Schools, and shall be happy to report on them.-Editor of the Educational Magazine.]
To the Editor of the Educational Magazine.
THE tone of the "Educational Magazine" is so encouraging to the teacher, that I cannot forbear offering a few suggestions to those who are engaged in the same excellent work with myself on a subject of some importance. I have often visited schools in which the master said the meanings of words were taught, but found the boys knew not the meaning of any thing they had written. I visited one the other day, and went through the classes. I asked one boy what a wagon was, and he told me a cart. Another, or rather a whole class, was writing in a fine large hand, the word catholic. When I inquired
the meaning. I was told with apparent satisfaction by the boys, as they shouted out-Universal. And what is universal? Catholic! I then inquired what they understood by catholic and universal; and asked which it was, a wheelbarrow or a smokejack. After a few moments' hesitation, one boy more "cute" than the rest, called out-Wheelbarrow, sir; and the whole school immediately echoed him. Another class told me pleasure was satisfaction, and satisfaction was pleasure; but here they stopped short. Oh! but, says the master, they do know the meaning, because I teach them the Greek and Latin roots, and therefore it is impossible to go wrong. Another boy was writing the word delusion. I inquired the signification; the master told him to give the root. The boy said from ludo, I play; lusus, a play; ludicrous—delusion. Well, now, What is the meaning of delusion? hesitation-to run about and play-ludicrous. I asked the derivation and meaning of explode. From plaudo, I praise-I clap, as applaud, explode. Another: To applaud and praise a person. To blow up Billingsgate fashion would have been a better answer. I was told that reduce came from Duco, I lead; and endure from DURUS hard; that differ was from FERO, I carry. But it was beyond my power to get at the meaning of reduce, or endure, or differ. From these facts I really think that there is still very great room for improvement in this particular of tuition. Masters, no doubt, particularly those who do not understand the Latin and Greek languages, think this a very learned method, and that consequently it must be exceedingly good. I object to it because it is liable to mislead, from the circumstance of the exceptions being greater than the rules which might be given, so to acquire the significations of words; besides, to pursue this system in a regular way, we ought to combine the Saxon and Norman-French roots, on which our language is equally rich, and which are far more emphatic. But any system of this kind must be very limited indeed, or it must take up a vast deal too much time; and I believe that the meaning of words can never be thoroughly ascertained but by general literary information, their present received meaning being quite different from what it formerly was, in so many cases as to perplex and confound those who would acquire it by these methods. It is from established usage, not etymology, that the exact meaning of words must be gathered; and the precise notions which are annexed to our phraseology will be best acquired by general reading and intelligence. Etymological researches are, however, of great use to the higher classes of students; they are calculated to gratify a natural and liberal curiosity, they furnish important data for illustrating the migration of mankind, and the progress of laws, of arts, and of commerce; and enable the classical scholar to acquire a great mastery over the use of his language which no other study can impart; but to introduce a method to poor boys who have only one or two years to spend at school, is only to make a show of learning and acquirement which does not exist, to the detriment of those whose precious time could be more advantageously employed in the facts of history and science, or the all-important study of religion, from the inspired volume. I am, Sir,
A sincere Friend to the excellent objects of your Magazine, and London, May 16, 1835. A BRITISH SCHOOL TEACHER.
To the Editor of the Educational Magazine.
Knowing your Magazine to be open to every improvement, I beg to call your attention to what is called Stoat's System of teaching: a system which I have practised with the greatest success in my own school for several years. Its principal recommendation is, that a boy is never at the bottom nor yet at
the top of the class, the whole being formed on a circulating principle, which gives a chance of reward to even the dunce if he give any attention: boys who remain at the bottom of a class are dispirited, careless, and even idle, and sometimes determined, as they cannot learn themselves, not to let others learn; but Stoat's system regulates this disadvantage, and is so completely a system of order as to enable a class to go throngh the whole of its discipline without a word being spoke by any of the boys or even the teacher. The whole apparatus necessary for introducing this system into a National School costs only three pounds, and the effects of it when introduced are really admirable, and Ï wonder that your attention has not been called to it before. While I am upon this subject, I should like to call your attention to the great defect existing in the National Schools, as regards the teaching of arithmetic; indeed so great is it, that unless some better plan be adopted, the National Schools will bear no comparison with others which compete with them, and very often take away a great many of their scholars from this circumstance. I have a school of nearly 300 children, and out of the 300, in spite of my unwearied exertions, not more than 50 can do the first four rules of arithmetic, so great is the defect under which I labour; there appears to want tangible or sensible objects, and then the signs of those objects, and some arrangement by which a whole class may see one example together, and observe its progress, the answers being easily ascertained. The National Schools labour under another very serious defect, namely that of the instruction given being far too limited, and the books introduced of too dull a kind for children. In the education of the children of the better classes, each parent is on the alert to get those books which are the best calculated to instruct, amuse, and gratify a child; but with us, books are put into the hands of children in which they can feel no interest, and they are expected to get on with equal rapidity. We want books of natural history, mineralogy, botany, and such like, with pictures and plates; voyages and travels, and story books. If children go to school only to dislike it, they will never become intelligent and social beings, because they will be led to dispise the means which will tend to make them so. Trusting this letter will not be thought too prolix for insertion.
Greek-street, Soho, May 19.
I am, Sir, Your's respectfully,
THE ART OF COMPOSITION.
To the Editor of the Educational Magazine.
I have lately introduced into my school what is exceedingly interesting to the children, and I think will be of great use in bringing them forward, namely-the art of Composition. I found, by experience, that unless children get into a habit of expressing themselves, they will never do it with ease or pleasure to themselves. Many poor persons, I have often heard say, I can write but I can't indite, and as the object in all schools should be practice as well as theory, I think we cannot begin with inditing too soon. I tried a plan some years ago with some of the elder boys in the school, but found I could get little done; and I verily believe the fault was in the teacher rather than in the pupils. I, as is common in boarding schools, gave out such subjects as Hope, Faith, Mercy, Truth, Anger, but found that if I wanted essays written upon such themes, I must do it myself. But a fire lately happened in our neighbourhood, which occasioned a good deal of consternation. I thought it would be a good subject to try the boy's minds upon, and I accordingly gave it out as a subject for them to write upon, and you cannot conceive the delight with which the boys went to their work, great and small; every boy had something to say upon that. I saw them earnestly engaged in a few mo
ments, some indeed occasionally scratching their heads for a new idea, and looking a little blank; but there was scarcely a child, excepting the very small ones, who did not write something about the catastrophe alluded to; and as a specimen of the style and manner of expression I subjoin one of the exercises, not indeed the best, but one that shows better the effect of the plan
"A FIRE.-When there is a fire it breaks out of the windows and flares round the doors and then the police-man raps the people up and they are a good while before they wake and when they do they throw the beds out of the window and the furniture and jump out after it and the engines come and the plugs are pulled up and the water runs about the streets and they spout the water out of the engine into the windows and then it smokes more but they can't get it out and it blazes up again and the beams crack and the roof falls in and then it is donted a bit and then it flares up worse and worse and then the walls fall down and sometimes people are killed and sometimes they are burnt up to a cinder and all their clothes are lost and destroyed if they be not insured and then they are ruined if they have not saved some money to keep them. HENRY JOICE."
Building a house, killing a pig, a thunder storm, making a fire, getting up in the morning, or any other subjects that come under their common observation are calculated to elicit their thoughts, and to teach them the art of expressing them. The teacher will find a valuable help in the selection of subjects from the children themselves, who will suggest themes far better than he can himself, and when these themes are exhausted and not till then, may he venture on more abstract subjects, or subjects drawn from books. Trusting these hints will be acceptable to my brother teachers in the British system, and useful to others, I beg to subscribe myself, Sir, your very obedient servant, Knightsbridge, May 10, 1835.
NOTES ON THE MONTH, AND MISCELLANEOUS
MEETING OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY.
On Monday, the 11th of May, 1835, the Thirtieth General Meeting of the subscribers and friends of this institution, was held in Exeter Hall. The doors were thrown open at 11 o'clock, and in a few minutes the whole of that spacious apartment was crowded to excess, by a highly respectable company. Amongst them present were a considerable number of the society of friends, and never perhaps did the society meet under such a favourable reception from the public at large. Shortly after 12 o'clock, Lord Brougham entered the Hall, and was received by the waving of hats and the most enthusiastic cheering: having been called to the chair,
"His Lordship proceeded to address the meeting. It became his painful duty, he said, to explain to the meeting the reason of his having the honour of addressing them that day as the Chairman of their assembly. He had said it was a "painful" duty to give that explanation, and it was painful only because it was on account of the absence of his Noble Friend Lord John Russell-(loud cheers). There was one, and only one consideration which prevented that Noble Lord from presiding over the meeting that day. He had been recently obliged to be absent in the country for a considerable time, and during his absence a considerable arrear of official business had accumulated in the Home Department, of which his Lordship was Secretary; and he was now obliged to devote his attention to those multifarious duties which had so accumulated, and that alone prevented his presiding over the meeting of that day (cheers). In the absence of that Noble Lord, he (Lord Brougham) was VOL. I.-June, 1835.
called upon to preside at the present meeting of a society, in whose proceedings, though he felt a deep interest, he had been for a considerable time prevented from participating by the accidents of public life and professional and official duties (hear, hear). He would remind the meeting, however, that he was a member of the society, and had presided in the chair at the meeting of 1810, from which the society had since grown up to its present flourishing condition. In the absence of the Noble Lord (Russell)-than whom, and his illustrious father the Duke of Bedford, his (Lord Brougham's) Noble and esteemed friend-there were no persons more sincerely and more ardently attached to the principles of universal education (cheers)—in the absence of that Noble Lord, he had only to observe that when he promised to preside at that meeting he filled a private station, but that he had been since called to a public one (cheers). It was not, however, to that circumstance that his absence was to be attributed; it was, as he before observed, to the pressure of his public duties; for Lord John Russell was the last man, in or out of Parliament, in or out of office, to hold the absurd, ridiculous, despicable, and un-English doctrine, that it was below the dignity of the highest public station for a man to attend at meetings of his fellow-countrymen-(cheers). Business might keep back some, indolence others, but principle could prevent no man possessing a particle of feeling that deserved the name of principle—(applause). He must be a bad servant of the public-but little aware of his duty to the people, to his Prince, or to himself, who could regard it as a degradation to take part in meetings of his fellow-countrymen. Lord John Russell laughed to scorn such trash as much as he (Lord Brougham) did himself—(laughter and cheers). That meeting had assembled in a time of what was called great political, and, he might add, great ecclesiastical excitement (hear); and therefore did it become the more necessary for him, in these few prefatory remarks, to beseech their attention to the governing consideration that they had met there that day for no party or sectarian purpose-that they were standing upon a neutral ground, free from all the storms of religious or political animosity-(hear, hear). He who would introduce any factious considerations— he who would show himself to be of one party or another in the business for which they had assembled, the advocate of one particular sect within or without the pale of the Church-that man would show himself to be unworthy to take part in the present discussion, which was truly catholic in its object, and which rested upon a broad and universal ground. It was a source of very great gratification to him to know that the observations which it might be found necessary to submit to the consideration of the meeting, might be confined within a very narrow compass indeed. Twenty-five years ago, when this institution was yet in its infancy-when the public mind was not trained to the usefulness of universal education-in addressing a meeting like the present it might have been necessary to dwell at length on the advantages of education, and to show that ignorance degraded and nullified, as much as it corrupted, the human mind. It might have been necessary to show that, for the purpose of securing enjoyment here, or the prospect of happiness hereafter, it was necessary to throw widely open the gate of universal knowledge. But the day in which it was necessary to introduce and enforce such topics was passed away never to return; and any man who would now dwell upon such topics, though he might be heard with gravity by so respectable an assembly, would yet have to encounter very unequivocal marks of weariness— (a laugh, and hear, hear). All men of all classes were convinced of the advantages to be derived from education, and the only contest between the parties now was how should education be best promoted? There existed an excellent rivalry to see who should do the most good—(hear, hear)—which had very much been done by the present society; but he would impress upon them that much still remained to be done-(hear, hear). There had been a very