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about this, what about that. An excellent exercise, too, for giving him a command of language, and improving his power of observation, would be, to make him explain all the larger prints, and point out what was on the foreground, what on the background, the right, the left, &c., requiring him to mention the most minute particulars.
If he is found to be well acquainted with the book, which will generally be the case on the first reading, if the teacher has done him justice, he should now begin a
The author of the Primer has furnished an excellent series of books ; but, unfortunately, when the child has gone through the first, he is not yet prepared to take
the second. And this is a defect attached to every series we have seen. The next books in order, then, should be, the Easy Primer,' (printed by Merriam, Springfield,) the Franklin Primer,' the Columbian Primer,' Gallaudet's Picture Defining Book,' Juvenile Lessons,' or any other books containing short and easy sentences, suited to infantile capacity.* Works on ge> ography, history, &c., (see Chapter I.,) may follow. Pushing a child forward, faster than he is prepared to go, is a serious evil, in all our schools ; more especially, in reading. If he is put into long sentences before he can read short ones, fluently, he must give so much attention to the pronunciation, that he has none to bestow on the
But, while this evil must be sedulously avoided, the child must not be kept reading the same book over and over.
This, truly, would be avoiding Scylla to fall on Charybdis. During the first year, he should read a number of books of nearly the same grade, till his vocabulary has become sufficiently extensive to enable him to read long sentences with tolerable ease, on the first trial. The school library will afford this variety, without additional expense to the parent.
There is a danger attendant on the use of the improved * The Little Philosopher,' by Jacob Abbot, is an excellent reading book, after the Juvenile Lessons. Let the class read the questions, by turns, and the teacher, after the reading of each question, indicate what child shall give the answer ; which should be done as rapidly as possible. Let the large print be read through first, reserving the small print to a second reading, or review.
first books, which teachers should be careful to avoid, else it may be productive of bad consequences. The books are so interesting to children, that they listen to their schoolmates' reading, and thus, sometimes, get familiar with the sentences and stories, before they can read them, insomuch that, by the help of the attendant picture, or a knowledge of only the first word, they go fuently through their lessons, as if they were reading them, when, in fact, they know little more than the first word of the sentence or story. This, however, can easily be discovered, by asking them words out of the middle of the sentences, or occasionally making them read a sentence backwards. The evil can never attain any head with an attentive teacher, especially after having been warned of the danger.
After reading a little geography and history, newspapers would afford admirable lessons for the reading classes. These might, no doubt, be procured from the parents, without charge ; and, when there was only one of a kind, the children might read by turns, or pass it from hand to hand. Every part might be read, and every part might furnish a useful lesson. Let us examine the first that comes to hand, which proves to be one from Philadelphia. Here we find various advertisements of different lines from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, which might give rise to interesting descriptions of canals and railways, and of a country, two hundred miles of which was a wilderness, traversed only by packhorses, less than forty years ago.
These advertisements are followed by a broker's call for small notes, or shinplasters, sales of raisins, of wine, looking-glasses, whips, buffalo robes, spectacles, cedar-ware, anthracite, cabinet furniture, hats, macaroni, nails and spikes, Bordeaux almonds, stoves, &c. ; notices of companies for insurance on lives, fire insurance companies, exchange offices, loan companies, coal companies ; lectures on phrenology,
on the Augustan age,'' on the life and writings of Shakspeare,' on the cause of storms ;' balls, concerts, theatres, soup-house tickets, auctions, houses and farms for sale, &c. ; with quack medicines, for the certain cure of
every disorder incident to man, except vice, old age, and death. Leaving the advertisements, we have political remarks and discussions, legislative proceedings, news from Texas, accounts of war and revolution in Mexico, discussions on free banking, accounts of a dreadful inundation, reviews of new books, sales of stocks, a list of letter-bags at the Exchange, and, lastly, a list of marriages and deaths. What a fine scope would here be presented, for questions and discussions by the pupils, and explanations by the teacher! What an opportunity for practical illustrations of geography and history! And could a fitter time ever occur, for impressing on the mind of the pupil the necessity, of receiving all political disquisitions with caution ; of always remembering the motto, Audi alteram partem ?* an impression, which might be much strengthened, by having papers on different sides of the great political question, which can probably be procured in every town. One newspaper, one single sheet, might afford interesting subjects for inquiry and discussion for a school, for months. How many books might these readings cause to be searched, which might, otherwise, have lain closed! What expansion of mind, in the little world of school, by the proper review of the newspaper !
" This folio of four pages, happy work !
Which not even critics criticise,-
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ?” — Cowper. The reflections, which it excites in the mind of the amiable poet, are so appropriate, that a quotation from them may, perhaps, be pardoned.
“'T is pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir
* Hear the other side.
To some secure and more than mortal height,
Before leaving the subject of reading, let us urge, once more, on the teacher, the importance of allowing nothing to be read in school, without requiring a full account of it from the class. At first, this may be educed by questions ; but, as soon as possible, the child should be led, by degrees, to give an account of his reading, without this aid. And, where questions are used, great care must be taken to avoid leading ones, such
Was Jane a good girl ? Did she want some plums ?”' instead of, kind of a girl was Jane ?” or, 6. What was said of Jane?" Let there also be questions relating to the general train of thought, and to topics growing out of it. Let there be questions which will lead the little logician to the exercise of his reflecting and reasoning powers, and to the developement of his moral feelings. Great care must be taken, to prevent guessing at answers. The children should be made to understand, that they must not attempt to answer, unless they have a distinct recollection of the subject. By the use of leading ques* The editor.
po Task,' Book iv. I. 88, &c.
tions, and by allowing guessing, some teachers have suffered this most adınirable discipline for the mind to degenerate into a mere form. The use of books with printed questions is also apt to produce evil effects, unless care is taken by the teacher. For, sometimes, a pupil will select the words of the book furnishing the answers, and commit them to memory, and thus appear fully master of a subject, of which he is profoundly ige norant. In order to keep the attention of the whole class wide awake, it will be proper, first to give the question, and then to name the pupil who is to answer ; letting it be always understood, also, that each child is liable to be called on, any number of times, and must always be ready.
Terms should be explained to children in a way suited to their capacity, not by formal definitions, or by synonymous expressions. This last is merely the substitution of one word for another; and, very frequently, the last is more unintelligible than the first, and, besides, creates the habit of resting satisfied with mere sounds, instead of ideas. But the explanation should be given by going back to simple, elementary truths, and by illustrations, drawn from objects and events with which they are familiar. * But the child himself should be called
for the signification of words and phrases in the lesson ; and he should be accustomed to examine the context for their meaning. He should also be required to give his
* I called, one day, at the parsonage, with a neighbor of ours, a Mrs. Moodey. After a pause, “ Mr. Pottle,” said she to the minister, “ I am almost ashamed to confess my ignorance, but you said somnething, in your last discourse, which I did not exactly understand.” “Well, madam,” said he, with a loud voice and a stern expression, " and pray what was it ?” “0, dear sir,” she replied, evidently confounded by his manner, “ I do n't doubt, in the least, that it was owing to my weak understanding ; but you said, sir,--speaking of the wiles of Satan,-' as if as though to circumvent thee.' ah,-yes, Mrs. Moodey,” he answered, “I well remember that expression. The meaning of those words, madam,” raising his voice to a terrible pitch, and striking his hand violently upon the table, “ the meaning of those words is this, Mrs. Moodey,--AS IF AS THOUGH TO CIRCUMVENT THEE !" "Oh, dear me, parson Pottle," cried Mrs. Moodey, with a trembling voice,“ how very clear you make it now!" - Temperance Tales, Vol. v. p. 115.
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