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SECONDARY SPECIAL SCHOOLS IN FRANCE.
(Continued from Volume XXIII., p. 64.)
SUBJECTS OF INSTRUCTION.
Total number of lessons.................... 32
First principles of Style and Composition. However simple a subject may be, there will always be a certain art in combining the various parts of which it is composed, so as to make it tell, and this art is useful to all, to the public orator or functionary, as well as to the simplest artisan. A common business letter ought to be clear, methodical, and accurate; in order to impart these three qualities to it, the writer must think over his subject, must place the different parts in suitable order, and must choose the expressions which most accurately convey his meaning. A regular course of rhetoric would, therefore, not be out of place towards the end of the complete programme of the special schools, but the age of the pupils will not allow of the dry rules of the syllogism and the forms under which it is disguised being explained to them, nor of the various figures of speech being described to them, which besides, pature herself teaches even to those men who are the least practiced in the art of speaking. In the lessons to be given in style, the method indicated for teach. ing the grammatical rules should be followed ; that is to say, the pupils should be made to read a great deal, and during these readings the principal rules of style and composition should be incidentally deducted, and during the greater part of the year the task imposed should be to reproduce the test which has been read and commented upon during the lesson. In this manner the pupils will be supplied with a fund of ideas necessary for speaking and for writing, and which they can not as yet be expected to have acquired for themselves, because such a fund is the result of experience, of observation, of memory, and of reflection.
The professor should explain, by means of numerous short examples, the qualities which every-sentence in general should possess, lucidity, precision, and correctness. He should point out summarily the various kinds of style,
and he should conclude with a study of narrative and of description, which should form the principal part of the instruction in this branch during this year.
Before reading the narrative meant to serve as a model, he should give an account of the subject, which the author has treated, and should in a few words analyze the facts which he has had to develop. This abstract should be successively repeated by several pupils, in order that the master may ascertain that the subject has been well understood; then he should read the narrative, interrupting himself from time to time, to point out the dominant idea, the accessory thoughts, the most remarkable expressions, and to show how much the writer has been able to make out of his subject.
The task should be the reproduction of the fragment thus studied.
Towards the end of the year the professor should give the pupils some short and amusing subjects of narrative or description to treat of, in order to afford them opportunities for developing the thoughts they have acquired through the previous exercises.
MODERN LANGUAGES. Continuation of the method prescribed for the preparatory course. The sentences dictated and written on the blackboard should be somewhat longer; short anecdotes, simply told, should be learnt by heart, and repeated aloud in the class in the language which the pupil is learving.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY. The professor should begin with the infancy of France, and follow her history up to the present era, isolating it from the history of other nations, without, however, neglecting those great events which must of necessity lead the historian beyond the French frontier. He should give an accouut of the most noteworthy facts; should dwell upon the fine characters that appear, but should avoid details, which would uselessly fatigue the attention of the children.
The pupils should receive short summaries, drawn up with great care, and which, after having served the purpose of notes, should be learnt by heart, and recited, or still better, should be developed at the commencement of each lesson.
The task should be the reproduction of the lesson given by the master
Geography of France, Agricultural, Industrial, Commercial, and Administrative.—The trader is the indispensable mediator between the consumer and the agricultural and manufacturing producer. Without bim the agriculturist and the manufacturer would be obliged to limit their production to the wants of the local consumption; it is through means of the merchant that one may at all times and in all places procure the articles produced by the two other classes. Bound together by constant relations, commerce, industry, and agriculture, should be as little separated in the school as they are in practical life. The powers inherent in each of these manifestations of activity are increased and multiplied by their common action. At a period when commerce was hardly distinct from the sources which fed it, the small manufacturer retailed his own goods, and one might spend one's life in buying and selling certain determinate objects in a given place. In the present day, inventions, improvements, and the rapid means of transport have changed the conditions of existence of the public markets. The former merchandise have been transformed, others have been created; every day new things are being cultivated, and manufacturers are opening new outlets for themselves, which give rise to combinations unknown to ancient commerce, and which more than ever insure success to those who are best informed, and have the most general instruction; hence the necessity for a course of commercial geography for the pupils of the special schools, who are one day to be merchants, or manufacturers, or agriculturists. The school can not take the place of the usual apprenticeship, which can alone form practical workers; but it is useful to know beforehand the commercial geography of distant countries; to be acquainted with the products furnished by the mining, the manufacturing, and the agricultural industry of the principal regions; the places of origin, and the importance of the raw materials wbich are most largely consumed; the products consumed and manufactured by the principal cities and countries; the means of communication, the weights, measures, and coinage in use; the mode of sale; in a word, the information required by every merchant who wishes to be instructed as to the transactions and the wants in the principal quarters of the commercial world.
The study of the physical geography of France should be taken up again, because every man ought first of all to be acquainted with the territorial riches of bis own country, and more particularly of bis own department, on which the teacher ought to dwell; because also of their offering familiar examples, easy to understand; the following year the relations of France with other countries should be studied. The professor should describe the principal agricultural regions, and point out their climatic conditions; he should speak of the different kinds of cultivation, of natural and artificial meadows, of vineyards, forests, the rearing of domestic animals, &c.; he should describe mining industry, point out the localities in which the raw materials, such as coal, iron ore, &c., are found, and where great mechanical and chemical industries have been developed, &c.; finally, he should indicate the navigable routes, the railways and roads, and conclude with a table of exports and imports, to which he should add a statement of the population, lastly, he should enumerate the countries with which France entertains the most active commercial intercourse, and devote a few lessons to our colonies, showing their relations with the mother country.
MATHEMATICS. Commercial Arithmetic.—Recapitulation of the rules of calculation of fractions, and the properties of proportions; practical rule for the extraction of the square; rule of three; of society and of simple interest, already learnt by the method of reduction; explication of the rules of discount, of composition, of allegation, of compound interest and of annuities; numerical exercises relative to public rentes and loans; details concerning the sinking fund (aissé d'amortissement), and the Bank of France; show that by means of letters and conventional signs calculations may be abridged, and operations generalized; give a foreshadowing of algebra by writing down in letters the results obtained.
The task should be numerous exercises in answering common questious.
Solid Geometry.--The professor should take care that the course retain its character of practical usefulness; he should therefore not proceed in strictly scientific order, nor demonstrate theorums independently of their application; he should, on the contrary, conduct the whole course of the instruction, so as to
elucidate constantly by application. When arrived at solid geometry, he should make use of small plates of cork, of 25 to 30 centimetres in length and breadth, to represent the planes, and of wooden sticks with points to represent the lines; with these plates and these sticks he should construct the figures, the properties of which he is going to explain, then, liaving presented it to the pupils from different points of view, he should draw it on the board, and during the course of his demonstration he should successively pass from the figure to the diagram, and from the diagram to the figure.
Each pupil being furnished with a similar apparatus, but on a smaller scale, should himself reproduce the proposed figure. In this way the course of this year prepares the pupils for the lessons of descriptive geometry.
Of the Plane.-From the perpendicular to the plane. No more than one perpendicular can be drawn through a given point on to a plane; to draw a perpendicular line from a given point to a plane without the aid of the T square, &c.; two lines perpendicular to the same plane are parallel; horizontal plane; planes mutually parallel, &c.; of the angle of two planes; trace a line of the greatest inclination on an inclined plane, &c.
Cylindrical Surfaces.- Production of cylindrical surfaces; straight, complete, truncated cylinder; to trace a straight and complete cylindrical surface, the length and the radius of which are given; production of a cylindrical surface; to draw a straight and truncated cylindrical surface, of which the radius is known.
Conic Surfaces.—Straight conic surfaces may be produced (engendrée) by the revolution of triangles, rectangular bodies, &c.; to draw a straight and complete conic surface; application to the arts. Developable surfaces: left hand surfaces; examples, wings of a mill, the moldboard of a plough, winding stairs, &o. Spherical surfaces: production of the spherical surface; to draw a spherical surface, the radius of which is given.
The Prism.—Straight, oblique, complete, truncated prisms; to draw a straight and complete prism, an oblique prism; principal propositions as to prisms; the cube; the pyramid; regular polyhedrons; the sphere.
Measurements.—To measure the lateral surface of a prism, a cylinder, a pyramid, of the trunk of a straight cone (tronc de cône droit), of a truncated pyr. amid, &c. To measure the surface of a spherical concave (calotte), of a zone, of a sphere, &c. To measure the volume of a prism, of a cylinder, of a parallelepidon, of a cube, &c., of the sphere, &c., &c.
The professor should have at command a collection of solids, in wood or pasteboard, or made of glass-plates, pasted together at the edges, and which allow the angles to be seen, and he should constantly make use of these to render comprehensible his propositions as to volumes, truncation, and conic sections. In the same way as he realized the solid figures of geometry, and exhibited them to the pupils before drawing them on the board and explaining their various properties; he should exhibit the volumes in wood, and allow them to pass through the bands of all the pupils, before drawing on the board the body of which he is going to treat.
General properties of liquid bodies, heat, dynamic electriciy. During this year's course the teaching should still remain simple, because it is addressed to children; algebraic formulas should be left aside, as they can almost always be advantageously replaced by numerical examples; the principles will therefore be not so much demonstrated by theoretical considerations, as they will be made comprehensible by experience.
Apparatus for measurement. Vernier. Dividing machine. Compressibility and elasticity of bodies. Saturation (trempe). Balance. Methods of double weiglits. Exercise the pupils in exact weighing. Properties of liquids. The principle of Archimedes. Pascal's hydraulic press. Areometers. The barometer. The pneumatic machine. Mariotte's law. Syphons. Aerostats, &c.
The second part of the course should comprise heat and its applications. Refrigerating mixtures. Latent heat, heating of baths and of rooms. Hygrometry. Mists. Clouds. Rain. Snow. Winds. Dew.
The course should conclude with dynamic electricity, the electric pile, magnets, and electric telegrapbs.
CHEMISTRY. The Metalloids and the Alkaline Metals.-The lessons of this year should bear upon the principles of chemistry, and the professor should base all his reasonings on experiments. He should make the pupils acquainted with the composition of bodies as regards the nature of their elements, by means of distinct reactions; he should give the centesimal composition of essential bodies in round numbers, without insisting on quantitative analysis, except as regards air, water, carbonic acid, marine salts, chalk, plaster of Paris, and some other equally common composites, which should be taken as examples. This course should commence with the study of metalloids and their most important applications in manufactures, &c. Next, metals in general and the most common alloys should be examined ; lastly, the salts in general, and the carbonates, the sulpbates, and the azotates in particular, should be the objects of attention. The course should terminate with the study of the alkaline metals, to which should be added some details relating to the calcareous substances, limestones, mortars, plasters, and ammoniacal salts.
NATURAL HISTORY. The professor should continue to give an elementary and practical character to the lessons.
In zoology, after having recapitulated the general characteristics of the vertebrate animals, he should pass on to the study of birds; their conformation is in accordance with their mode of life; the instincts of family and of race are manifested in the construction of their pests, in the bringing up of their young, and in their migrations in search of milder climates. The history of reptiles will furnish the professor with opportunities for useful hints as to the distinctive characteristics of the venomous and the non-venomous serpents. With the history of fishes and their mode of organization, should be combined the study of the resources which they offer as means of alimentation. The history of insects should serve as a basis for interesting lessons on the instinct of bees, or the metamorphoses and the products of silk-worms. Then, after having imparted some notions as to molluscs, the snail and the oyster; as to zoophytes; sponges, etc.; and as to infusoria; the eels of paste and of vin. egar; as to monads, &c., the professor should recapitulate the principal charac'teristics of the most importaut branches, classes and families.