Abbildungen der Seite

Tity; for cooking victuals, eradicating stains, nursing children, washing, dressing, laying out garden plots, acd for promoting domestic economy—characteristics of poisonous plants, cautions in relation to unripe fruits, &c . &c . 8. Short moral maxima, pithy sayings, and rules /or the general regulation of conduct. 9. Dialogues: "The little Philosopher," "The King and the Miller," &c . 10. Customs and ni'iii'in* of nations. Sketeh of Geography,— descriptions of cities, towns, and remarkable places. 11. Kntertaining experiments, magnctical, electrical, pneumatical, galvanic, mechanical, chemical, &c . 12. Juvenile amuse: flying the kite, fives, peg-top, swinging, bathing, Ac., with cautionary maxims. 13. Srled Poetry, consisting only of pieces interesting to the young, and level to their capacity. 14. Lesions in written characters, for habituating children to read manuscripts and epistolary correspondence. 15. List of names and qualities of natural ana' artificial ohjects, as exercises in spelling. during which, short descriptions might be (riven of the nature and properties of the different objects whose names are proposed as spelling-exercises. 16. List of Greek and Latin primitives and pref'Ositions, with examples of their meaning, and the effect of their composition in English words. 17. Definitions of scientific ttmis, and of the more difficult words which occur in the lessons. 18. Tables of money, weights u nd measures, with illustrations of the value of coins, the capacity of measures, linear dimensions, &c. 19. A general tet of tfueries, referring to some of the principal subjects described in the lessons.

Snch was the outline of a class-book which was intended to be published six-and-twenty years ago. One peculiarity by which it was intended to be distinguished, was—that a set of questions without answers, bearing on every particular olject and circumstance detailed, vans to be appended to each lesson, for exercising the attention and judgment of the pupil, previous to his being examined on the subject. The various subjects introduced were intended to be partly original composition, partly compilations, and partly selections, abridged, modified, or altered, to suit the object in view. Fables and fictitious stories were to be entirely discarded, and the leading facts to be illustrated by engravings. After composing a preface or introduction, showing the utility of such a work, and obviating objections that might be made to its plan, and having proceeded a certain length in its compilation, I was induced to lay aside the design, in consequence of the apathy and indifference of most of the teachers I conversed with on the •ubject. Some of them who stood high on

the ranks of city and parochial schoolmasters told me plainly, that they considered it as no part of their duty to teach their pupils any thing but reading or itronunriation, and that if their parents wished them to understand what they read, they might teach them at home.

Such a school-book is still a desideratum, notwithstanding some improvements which have lately been made in school-collections. Whether it would be expedient to publish such a work at the present time, the public must determine. If properly executed, it would require a considerable degree of labour and research, a discriminating judgment, a familiar acquaintance with the tastes and dispositions of the young, and a talent for simplifying descriptions, and rendering them perspicuous to a youthful understanding. Such a book could not be constructed either by the scissors, or by merely copying or abridging pieces from various authors; but by entering thoroughly into the spirit of every subject, and modifying it in such a manner as to interest the affections, and to convey well-defined ideas to the minds of those for whose improvement it is intended. The formation of the questions on each lesson would require a considerable share of judgment and discrimination, so as to render them perspicuous and specific. Most of the questions of this kind which have been attempted in certain school-books, are so general and vague, that they servo no useful purpose either to teacher or scholar, and are frequently so worded and arranged, that a pupil might find out the answers without understanding them or exercising his own judgment. It is, unquestionably, an eligible plan, in every department of learning, to have sets of questions without answers, bearing on every branch of study. Such questions tend to excite the curiosity of the pupil, to exercise his judgment, and to arrest his attention to the subject; and the finding out of the proper answers affords him a certain degree of pleasure. They are also of utility to the teacher, and may suggest to him numerous other subordinate questions connected with the subject The old plan of constructing books by way of "Question and Answer," and causing the vocables of the different answers to be committed to memory without being understood, is too absurd to require a moment's consideration.

It will be admitted, I presume, by every intelligent person, that a class-book, judiciously arranged and executed, and comprising such subjects as above stated, would be far more interesting to the young, and calculated to convey to their minds a much greater portion of useful information, than all the " Beauties of eminent Writers," "Speeches in the Roman Senate," "English Readers," "Tyro's Guides," and " Oratorical Class-books," which have been so long in use in our English schools. Such a book should contain hints and sketehes of every thing that has a tendency to expand the intellectual views, and which may be applied to useful practical purposes in the several departments of human life, and be completely purified from every thing that might produce national prejudice and partiality, the spirit of contention and warfare, and the indulgence of selfish and malignant affections—in short, a book which might be read with pleasure by the young who understood its language, in every nation of the world. In the hands of a judicious teacher, every idea it contained might be communicated to the understandings of the pupils; and, as early impressions are the most lasting, the sentiments conveyed, and the impressions thus made upon the mind, could not fail to be of incalculable service to them throughout the whole course of their lives. The foundation of useful knowledge would be laid, and a taste for intellectual pleasures induced, which would stimulate them to still higher pursuits and investigations as they advanced in life. Nor need we have the least fear that children, at an early age, would be incapable of acquiring such knowledge as that to which I allude. If they have not hitherto acquired it, it is because such knowledge as they were capable of acquiring has seldom been judiciously presented before them. We have compelled them to "feed upon ashes"—we have offered them "scorpions" instead of "eggs," and "stones" instead of "bread;" and because they were unable to masticate and digest such substances, we have deprived them of wholesome and nutritious food, and wondered why they have not been strengthened and invigorated. When truth is simplified by familiar illustrations taken from objects with which they are acquainted, and confirmed by appeals to their senses, they imbibe it with avidity, and frequently retain the impressions thus made to the latest period of their existence. The celebrated Fcnelon has observed, that "Before they are thought capable of receiving any instruction, or the least pains taken with them, they learn a language. Many children at four years of age con speak their mother tongue, though not with the same accuracy or grammatical precision, yet with greater readiness and fulness than most scholars do a foreign language after the study of a whole life." This circumstance certainly indicates no small degree of intellectual energy and acumen. And to this I may add, that they discover their intellectual powers by connecting the i'ka with the sign of it, and acquire many notions of good and evil, right and

wrong, in that early period of life. Such ate their powers of discrimination, that they can distinguish the characters and dispositions of those with whom they associate, and frequently know the tempers and weaknesses ol their parents much better than the parents know theirs, and are dexterous enough to avail themselves of that knowledge in order to obtain their desires and gratify their humours.

A third series of school-books might consist of popular systems of the sciences, and descriptions in relation to the mechanical and liberal arts. The fundamental principles and the most interesting facts connected with botany, mineralogy, zoology, geography, geology, geometry, astronomy, experimental philosophy and chemistry—and likewise those connected with the arts of weaving, book-binding, printing, clock and wateh making, brass-founding, carpentry, &c.—might be familiarly detailed, and illustrated with as many plans and engravings as the different subjects might require. The general knowledge of the sciences, which the pupil would acquire from such compilations, would prepare him for afterwords entering on the study of particular sciences, when their principles and applications would be illustrated in more minute detail. The sketehes of the different arts and trades would unfold to him some of the leading processes and operations peculiar to the several mechanical employments, and lead him to determine which of these would be most congenial to his own taste and genius.—In compiling such sketehes of the sciences and arts, a considerable degree of knowledge, taste, and discrimination, would be requisite. Every thing that is intricate or abstruse, or not level to the comprehension of young people from the age of ten to the age of fourteen years, should be omitted. Vivid and familiar descriptions of facts and scenery, details of interesting experiments, and engravings of natural and artificial objects, should accompany the explanations of the fundamental principles of the different sciences. In short, every thing should be introduced which can be illustrated by sensible objects, and every thing discarded which the senses cannot easily' appreciate. Mere skeletons of the sciences would be quite uninteresting, and would produce no good effect If any particular science could not be comprehensively illustrated in the space allotted for its details, a selection of its more prominent and popular departments might be substituted, which would be quite sufficient for communicating a general view of the subject, and inducing a taste for its further prosecution at a future period—which is all that in requisite to be aimed at in the first exhibition* of science to the youthful mind.

Another class of school-books might be chiefly Historical. These should comprise a lucid and comprehensive view of the leading events which have happened from the creation to the present time, omitting those details which would either be improper to be exhihited, or which might prove uninteresting to the young. As a supplement to such a work, a more detailed history might be given of the particular nation or country in which the school is situated.—In compiling such historical works, great caution is requisite that no scenes be exhihited, and no sentiments inculcated, that would pollute the minds of the youDg, or foster malignant affections. Many of our historians detail the convulsions of nations, and the horrid scenes of devastation and carnage, with a revolting degree of apathy, without interweaving any reflections tending to show the folly and wickedness of war, and to denounce those malignant passions from which it springs. Nay, we frequently find the writings of historians abounding with panegyries on public robbers and desperadoes, encomiums on war and on warriors, and designating the worst enemies of the human race as patriots and illustrious heroes. Hence it has happened, that the study of history, instead of leading the mind to contemplate the character of the Moral Governor of the world, and the retributions of his providence, and to mourn over the malevolent passions and the depravity of man—has not unfrequently tended to excite desires after the acquisition of false glory, and to cherish a spirit of contention and warfare,—the effects of which are visible, even at the present moment, in the amhitious projects which arc carrying forward by haughty despots and their obsequious ministers, and in the devastations which are committing, and the contests which are taking place, in almost every region of the globe. If wo wish to counteract the effects of pagan maxims and morality, and to imbue the minds of our youth with Christian principles and feelings, we must carefully guard against the influence of such antichristian sentiments. The history of all nations ought to be considered, not merely as the exploits of kings and heroes, but as the hittoiy of the providential dispensations of the Almighty towards the human race, and the history of the moral character of mankind. We should study it, not merely or chiefly, for the purpose of admiring and imitating: the exploits of those who have been extolled as illustrious characters, (for there are few of them whose deeds deserve our imitation)—but for expanding our views of the character and moral government of the Ruler of the Universe—for confirming the representations given in the Scriptures of the depravity of man—and for exciting an abhorrence

of those lawless passions and deeds of injustice, which have covered the earth with carnage and desolation, and entailed misery upon the race of man. If we wish to study patterns of moral virtuo worthy of imitation, we have the example of Jesus Christ set before us, as the pattern of every excellence, " who was holy, harmless, and undefiled,"—"who did no sin, neither was guile found in his month; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed his cause to him who judgeth righteously." We have likewise the examples of his holy prophets and apostles, men as far superior in their moral principles and conduct to the most distinguished sages of Greece and Rome, as the Christian religion is superior to all the systems of theology in the pagan world.—In compiling histories for the young, the historian ought, therefore, to pause at certain periods and events, and direct the attention of his readers to what is moral or immoral in the actions detailed, to what is worthy of being approved or condemned in the scenes described, as determined by the principles and rules of Christianity. He should direct the attention of the young to the scenes of horror which a spirit of amhition and revenge has created, to the malignant passions it has engendered, and to its contrariety to the spirit of true religion and the best interests of man. He should lead them to remark the justice and long-suffering of the Governor of the world—the retributions of his providence in the case of nations and individuals—the accomplishment of Divine predictions—and the evidences which the records of history afford, that man is no longer in a paradisiacal condition, but has fallen from his high estate. In short, he should direct their views to the means by which the spirit of warfare may be counteracted and destroyed,— to the happy scenes which would be realized were a spirit of philanthropy to reign triumphant,—and to that glorious era, foretold by ancient prophets, when the nations "shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and learn the art of war no more." Were history studied in connection with such views and instructions, —instead of fostering malignant passions—it might become a handmaid to science and religion, and be rendered subservient for directing the mind to the Great Ruler of the nations, and the plans of his moral government, and for stimulating the exercise of those benevolent affections by which the tribes of mankind may be united in harmony, and the world restored to tranquillity and repose.

All the class-books now described should be embellished with engravings, wherever they appear requisite for illustrating the descrip> a 2 (77)

tions contained in the text The subject! of such engravings should not only be accurately delineated, but delicately rottmrtd after nature, so as to convey, as nearly as possible, a correct and vivid impression of the objects intended to be represented. Nothing is more pleasing and gratifying to the young, than accurate engravings of the subjects about which they read, and nothing has a greater tendency to convey well-defined ideas of those objects which are not present to the senses, and to impress them indelibly upon the imagination. But we have hitherto had no schoolbooks embellished with such engravings as those to which t allude. The expentt of such books might probably be objected to, as an argument against their introduction. But if the great end of education be carefully kept in view, and the importance of conveying clear and comprehensive ideas to the rising generation be duly weighed, no considerations of expense ought to deter us from the execution of any plan by which instruction in the elements of thought may be rendered delightful and efficient Society, if once aroused to consider the importance of an enlightened education, would find no difficulty in defraying every expense connected with its arrangements. If such books were in, universal re

quest, and, consequently, many thousands of them thrown off at one impression, they might be afforded at a price very little higher than that of the paltry and inefficient classbooks which have been so long in use in our scholastic establishments.

The series of books now described should be accompanied with dictionaries, and other books of reference, for obtaining definitioid of words and descriptions of the objects of nature and the terms of science and art. These dictionaries, along with clear definitions of English words and synonymes, should contain short definitions of Latin, Greek, and French primitives and phrases, particularly those which have been adopted into our language, and which, in composition, modify the meaning of many of our own words. The Latin and Greek prepositions should be explained, and their force in the composition of English words, and in the terms of art and science, particularly illustrated. Portable cyclopedias or technological dictionaries, with numerous illustrative cuts, such as Crabb's "Dictionary of General Knowledge," would likewise bo highly requisite for the occasional use of the higher or primary classes, in all our schools.


Method of Teaching, and the Departments of Knowledge which should be taught in every


The teacher being understood to have a a key, none of these things will give rooh a school furnished with the accommodations, sound. A wine-glass will also produce a museum, and apparatus formerly described, pretty brisk sound; but if we strike it hard and with a reries of books adapted to intel- with a nail or a stone, it will break. We lectual instruction—I shall now offer a few hear every sound by means of our ears, which hints on the mode in which the several depart- God had formed and placed on each aide of ments of instruction might be conducted. our heads, that we might listen to our teachers,

and be able to talk with one another.—2. The Section I.—English Heading. light which flows from the sun consists of

In throwing out a few hints on this depart- ff'cn. tfm; **, ,oran,f , ye»owment I shall take it for granted that fee blue, mdigo and vrolet The earth .s spread

pupils have acquired a knowledge of the over w,th most of coloure; ^

alphabet, in thelanner in which it is gene- ■«"« fPTM"1 over "ZTM

rally taught in infant schools, and that they w,th a llSht f** If Wlth *

arc qualified to read, with a certain degree of ** c0lour- Flr ^ «s1«mi e I»P"

easc,a few short lessons, consisting of words 1ar tree* are dark green, com and grass am

of one or two syllables. Let us suppose, for of a bSht STMn c0lour- A ""^ ««•

example, such a lesson as the Mowing, on TM wmte: ,Thc "oflwfootithe

the general nature and qualities of certain £e B0C05 ?nd me' wall-flower, are yellow.

objects, to be the subject of attention. J°» andrn*ro?m fo

J J flowers. The blue-bottle flower, and soma

1. A bell gives a brisk sound when we hyacinths, are of a blue colour. Some daisies

strike it with a key, or with a stone, or with a are red, some are white, and some have two

large nail. If we strike an egg-cup made of or three colours. The corn in the fields, tb«

wood, or if we strike a board or the table with grass in the meadows, and the leaves of trees. ire green.—3. Iron is heavy, copper is heavier, lead i s heaviest. Lead will suik, if you throw it into a basin of water, but a cork will swim on the top of the water. A stone will sink in water, but a piece of light wood will swim; and if you push the wood down with your hand to the bottom of the basin, it will quickly rise ngain to the top.—i. The sun shines from the heavens, and gives us light all the day. He is so bright that we can scarcely look up to him. If we were to look straight towards the sun, it would dazzle our eyes. But if we take a piece of glass that is red or dark green, or a glass that is covered all over with the smoke of a candle, we may look through this glass to the sun without dazzling our eyes. The sun sometimes shines very bright, and sometimes he is covered with clouds. The sun is giving us light at this moment, but we cannot sec him. Can any of you tell the reason why the sun is not seen just now when he is giving us light? What hides him from our sight? The sky sometimes appears clear, like a large blue dome or half-globe, and sometimes it is all over covered with dark clouds. When the sun rises in the east, that part of the sky is often covered with bright red and yellow clouds; and when he sets in the evening in the west, the same kind of clouds arc sometimes seen. God made tho sun, the moon, and the stars; ho also made the fields, the trees, and the com; he formed our bodies and our souls; he gave us eyes to sec with, cars, that we might hear, hands to to handle with, feet to walk with, and he preserves us every moment. He is present with us in this place, and sees all that we do, though w r cannot see him. Let us give thanks to God, for he is good, and let us do what he commands.

None, I presume, will be disposed to deny, that children of five years of age, who have been previously accustomed to observe the facts around them, may easily be made, under the guidance of an intelligent teacher, to understand every idea contained in such lessons as the above. The lesson should first be distinctly nnd deliberately read over by the class two or three times, and then illustrated by objects and experiments. Lesson 1, may be illustrated by a small hand-bcll, a key, a wineglass, nnd a piece of wood; and some of the children might be permitted to try the experiments, which would gratify their natural curiosity, and excite an interest in the subject of their lesson—it being always understood that the teacher accompanies such experiments with familiar explanations and remarks.— For illustrating Lesson 2, it would be requisite to have a large white pasteboard painted with the seven primary colours of light, so that the pupils might be exercised upon it,

in naming and distinguishing the different colours. The objects whose colours are stated might be shown them; or if any of these objects are not at hand, they may be exhibited by coloured engravings.—To illustrate Lesson 3, a pair of scales, a basin of water, a piece of cork, and three pieces of iron, copper, and lead, of eijwil lizr, will be required, and then the experiment of weighing the pieces, and plunging them into tho water, may be exhibited to the class. When explaining Lesson 4, a piece of stained or smoked glass may be put into the hands of the pupils, when the sun is visible, that each of them may try tho experiment. The questions proposed in this lesson, which are not answered, may serve to exercise the judgment of the pupils. They are understood to refer to the circumstance of a clouriy day. Various simple questions of this description should be embodied in the lessons, to give scope to youthful judgment and ingenuity. The latter part of this lesson might afford an opportunity to the teacher oF impressing the minds of the class with a sense of the presence, goodness, and universal agency, of the Creator. It will scarcely be denied, that in this way instruction may be blended with amusement, and that a considerable variety of useful knowledge might be gradually imparted to the juvenile mind.

Descriptions of nnimals would form another interesting class of lessons for the young, as in the following example:—

[merged small][graphic]

The Peacock is the most beautiful bird in the world. Its beauty excels that of all other animals. Its bill is about two inches long, and is of a brown colour. Its head and neck, and part of its breast, are of a dark blue colour. On the top of its head there is a tuft of pretty green feathers, which adds to its beauty. Its neck is long and slender, and its back of a whitish grey colour, spotted with black. But the plumage and tail of this splendid bird are the most beautiful parts of its body. They arc adorned with colours so rich and various, that no human art can make any thing like them. When this bird walks in

« ZurückWeiter »