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name which beautifies the long list of the genius and intellect of classic days. Nor would we award to him the merit of mathematical skill who is not as familiar with every department of that heaven-born science as with the sounds of his native tongue. We expect not to find, in every age and in every land, the immortal names of a Porson and a Bentley, of a La Place and a Bowditch. No, the world has not worth enough to be blessed with them, and science hardly a depth beyond the reach of their researches. But when such giant intellects are found, let no diminution be made from their just praises. Let us not forget them, and fall into the miserable fashion of the day, of heaping indiscriminate laudings upon a mushroom growth of what are called profound scholars, yet whose claims and whose very appellation will prove as ephemeral as their own existence. Now, we ask, is it the influence of the system under consideration to bring forward scholars like those whose names we have adduced ? Is it the influence of this system to foster, to encourage, or even to awaken their love for science, their unsatisfying thirst for the deepest waters of the fountains of learning ? We believe it is not. We believe that it is directly the reverse. Is it to be expected, is it reasonable to hope, we do not
from the nature of things, but from the nature and habits of young people, that they will exert themselves to the utmost point of the requisite diligence and inves tigation, to possess themselves perfectly of a certain prescribed portion, suppose of some classic author, if they are assured in their own minds that this portion will not be required of them, and strictly required, by one, whose knowledge in the matter is infinitely superior to their own, and whose authority to require it is com
mensurate with his knowledge? If studying the writings of the prince of epic poets, will they sedulously investigate the multiplied and endless changes in the form of his words ? Will they, with critical acumen, learn thoroughly to distinguish the interminable variety of his dialects? Will they make themselves competent to point out the Atticand the Doric, or even the more common Ionic forms? We believe they will not. We believe they will reason (as even many older individuals would do, except when spurred on by some more than ordinary incitement) that they need not fret themselves, and labour, and toil, and dig, as they call it, to obtain all this familiarity with their author; because they are sure that he to whose share it will fall to examine them knows but little if any more about the matter than they themselves do. Is not such reasoning perfectly consonant with the principles of human nature? Do we not see its operations in the every-day business of our schools and of our lives? Here, then, is the great peril. Here then, in our belief, is the grand difficulty and defect in the whole system of monitorial instruction. It will make deficient, defective, and superficial scholars, an evil most sincerely to be deprecated as the canker-worm and destruction of all sound learning. Will all the strivings, will all the counsel, will even the very utmost authority of the principal teacher, prevent entirely so ruinous a result? We fear not. So great is the waywardness, so chainless and powerful the aversion to studious efforts in many, if not in most young people, that all his labour and his counsel will pass by them “ like the idle wind.” We are sensible that all scholars are not equally opposed to application. We are sensible that there are many of whose very nature labour
and sedulous application seem to be a constituent part; many who would labour and learn in the very worst school the imagination of man ever conceived of. “ Some trees will thrive, in spite of arid soil;
Some hold their stately form ʼmidst raging tempest's toil." But not so of all. And even for the security and stability of the good principles and firmly-fised habits of the most diligent scholars, we should have some fears, amidst the general recklessness and indolence which surround them.
We come now, at length, to the consideration of the last topic alluded to in the heading of our remarks, which is," to show how far the system of Mutual Instruction may be safely adopted into our schools.” We confess that we should prefer leaving the entire subject here, after having stated the advantages and defects of the system, permitting each one to form an opinion for himself. It is a point to be dealt with with the extremest wariness and prudence. That the prevailing system of school management has defects, and those, too, of the most palpable and mischievous nature, is an assertion as incontrovertible as truth itself. And it is equally undeniable that an entire, thoroughi, and radical change, of some kind or another, is loudly demanded. If the monitorial system will cure these defects, without introducing others equally glaring and mischievous ; if it will place our schools upon the long and ardently desired footing of pre-eminence and of excellence, the sooner it is universally introduced the better. But, as we have seen, this system, as well as the ordinary one, has certain essential and inherent defects. As we have seen, also, it possesses some very eminent points of excellence. This being the case, it would seem as though
the voice of prudence would direct us to separate the chaff from the wheat ; to adopt what is good, so far as the nature of our school system will permit, while at the same time we retain whatever is meritorious in the old, and to reject whatever is bad and therefore mischievous from them both. In medio tutissimus ibis is a motto of the soundest prudence, and as applicable to the case in discussion as to the numerous others to which it has been so frequently applied. The course, then, which we believe might be followed with entire safety, and even with absolute benefit, would be to adopt into all our schools those points in the monitorial system which, possessing in themselves universally acknowledged excellence, have at the same time the desired power of effectually remedying several of the greatest defects in our common system. That we may be more precisely understood, we proceed to be more particular. We have already stated, in the former part of these remarks, that there is a very great portion of time, in a school conducted upon the ordinary method, which is spent in the most unprofitable idleness. We have observed also that this failing was not consequent upon any fault of the teacher (for the faithful teacher is constantly employed), but because of the utter impossibility of his giving his attention to more than one set of scholars at a time. Now, in cases like this, and where the number of scholars is greater than can be kept in unremitted occupation by the solitary teacher, let him make use of what is infinitely preferable to a wasteful lavishness of time, the monitorial system. Let him select some prominent individuals from a superior class, and appoint them to superintend some useful exercises to be carried forward simultaneously by a whole class. These exercises
should be such, however, as have been previously explained and taught by the presiding master, and of the correct conclusion of which there cannot a doubt arise. Let them be perhaps in arithmetic, in algebra, in written translations from Latin or Greek into English, or from English into Latin or Greek, when the monitors can have the assistance of printed keys. We have practised upon this method with great advantage both to pupils and to monitors. As the particular course pursued has sometimes been thought worthy of a passing inquiry, we will, by your permission, enter into an explanation.
Let there be provided a set of black boards, of such a number as the convenience of the school-room and the necessities of the school may require, each board being about forty inches by thirty. Let them be arranged in a convenient part of the room, at about three feet apart, standing contiguous to the wall, and at right angles with it, and parallel to each other. We have always made use of twenty-four. This number may be enlarged or diminished, to conform to the number of pupils who may be required to use them. When the pupils are stationed at them, each has a separate board, the size and position of which, together with the vigilance of the teacher or monitor, prevent his seeing the work upon the board next before him. To every three boards there is appointed a monitor of supervision, who is selected from among the best scholars in the class. Over the whole there is placed a presiding monitor, who is always selected from the highest class in the school, and who consequently has been through the whole course of instruction over which he is directed to preside. * At
* Whenever the occupations of the teacher of the school will permit, let him be the presiding monitor. He will find this method of teaching and reciting, particularly in the mathematics, the best that can be devised.