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models, maps, charts, or of the actual subject; experiments, examinations, and practice in the formal processes of the profession in view.
The original method of teaching was that of dictating what was to be learned, making the pupil commit it to memory, and afterward examining him, to test his understanding of it, correct his errors, and fix the whole more firmly in his unind. As the class advanced, dictation expanded into the freer and broader current of lecture, in which a more matured capacity of apprehension was called into exercise. The amount of attainment was not great, but the course was long, owing to the slow and laborious method of progress. The introduction of text-books was a great improvement, especially in the earlier stages. Dictation could then be laid aside, though it is still practised, to some extent, with profit. In the part of his education to which that method belonged the student can now generally do better for himself, in mastering passages assigned to be read, if he is afterward thoroughly examined upon them. But at the stage of progress, where anciently dictation ripened into lecture, there is still nothing which can entirely take the place of the old method. For the use of lecture is not all summed up in supplying the lack of books. On many points it has still to serve that purpose; but is now far more needed on account of their unmanageable number. It is profitable to have a guide who can present us, in brief, with the substantial teaching of all that pertains to our subject of study. One man can thereby save, as well as direct, the time and efforts of many. To master the literature of a profession, and the substance of all its instructions, is the work of a life-time, and in some professions is too much for the longest human life; but one man, by devoting his whole attention to a single branch of it, may be able to present the amount of what is to be found in that branch, in a course of lectures not too prolonged for a place among the studies preparatory for the profession. Thus a corps of professors, each laboring consistently in his own department, can, within a few years, furnish an amount of information which no one of themselves, in his whole life-time, could have collected and digested. Moreover, it is of no little value to receive the influence proceeding from a mind kindled by en
thusiastic pursuit of one department of knowledge, and deep insight into its laws.
In all professions the power of correct and rapid observation, and assignment of things to their classes, is of inestimable value. And there is no better discipline of mind to that end, which education can propose, than the task of listening to lectures with a view to being examined on them. It is an exercise tending to the highest intellectual maturity to control attention to a strictly didactic lecture, to apprehend accurately its particular statements, its general plan and purport, while it is in the course of delivery, and to retain and marshal the whole for future use.
It is certainly pleasant to follow a teacher who is able to enlist attention and retain it; but of far more educational value for the student is it to learn to command his own attention to whatsoever his duty requires. The former is only to yield to the mastery of another mind; the latter is an act of self-control, going to render a man master of his own powers. The habit of mind formed by being entertained is superficial, never dares to penetrate beyond the outward effects of any thing; to the solid basis of the beautiful and entertaining it never reaches, and is ever helplessly dependent upon the work of others. It is not a result of education, except in as far as the capacity to enjoy certain objects goes. To be able to take interest in works of science and art, and their nice discriminations, to be impressible by the finest shades of beautiful affection does certainly belong to the best points of mental culture; but the mere capacity to be entertained does not.
The least informed are the most easily entertained, and at the least expense. It can never enable a man to work, to produce any of the effects which an educated man is expected to produce for the benefit of society.
A man, in acquiring power over his own attention, secures also power over the minds of others. All persons who do not possess it have a natural tendency to lean upon him who does. And every educated man ought to be such as his uneducated neighbors can have recourse to, as not only better informed touching his profession, but also as better able to turn all the powers of his mind with effect to any emergency which may arise among them. The young commit a great mistake who exclusively attach themselves to that which is entertaining among their studies. Entertainment, of course, is not to be rejected when occurring naturally; but by far the most profitable is that intellectual effort which takes bold of and masters what is orderly but not attractive. That student is earning the noblest triumphs, who, pushing through the outworks of an uninviting study, fighting his way manfully with every obstacle, at length reaches a point where the symmetry of the whole lies before him, and the delight of conquered knowledge dawns upon his heart. That is the man who will make an impression on the society in which he lives, if not upon the broader world, to be remembered long.
The effort of properly attending lectures is one which requires no little mental training such as is seldom found short of the higher classes in college, and then only in the case of those who have been faithful to their previous studies. A common defect of the uneducated, or imperfectly educated, mind is that of not giving attention correctly. To hear correctly, and at once, what is said, is a most desirable practical power, and not less important the habit of reporting correctly.
Popular lecturing is necessarily a different affair. Inasmuch as, in that case, a mixed audience is addressed, and mental preparation cannot be presumed, the lecture must take the character of entertainment, and make as little demand as possible upon that attention which is felt to be an effort. It belongs to the head of amusements, takes its place with the theatre and dramatic readings, and has little to do with education.
The recitation method of instruction is that which is best suited for boys at school, and in the greater part of the college course, and must be retained in the university, wherever drill is needed. The lecture is best for aiding the studies of mature minds in collecting and classifying information, and ought to interchange with the recitation in the more advanced part of the college course, while in the university it is necessarily the prevailing method.
In college, the grand objects in view have reference to selfculture, to formation of habits of attention, of diligence, of reading, command of the faculties, and of regular and constant application. Of course, it is of no little importance what the material of study is; but much more is the intellectual discipline which it furnishes. In the university, on the other hand, the great concern is the subject matter of study. The student, it is presumed, has already the necessary training, and is now seeking clear and classified information for his life's work.
Conversation, or examination, or making of abstracts, should always accompany a course of lectures for instruction, as helpful, if not indispensable to the certifying, digesting, and assimilating of the instructions received. Taking of notes during the time of listening to a lecture is an interruption, and granted only to defective memory. It were better to grasp the whole discourse as a unit, by one continuous effort of attention, and write the notes after returning to one's room; but that demands an excellence of memory too rare to admit of its being recommended as a rule; and to learn to take notes with facility and without embarrassment of attention, is an attainment valuable for life.
Upon the whole, the great aim of the university is to instruct, promote, and direct professional enterprise. The school is a system of constraints; the college of mixed constraints and inducements, designed to guide, to correct independent action. The university is a commonwealth of minds already committed to their own responsibility. Neither school nor college have properly any professional bearing; the university is entirely professional.
They are the studies of the university which have no natural termination. The work of the school comes to an end when its pupils are adequately prepared for college; the work of the college ceases when its classes are properly qualified to take up the studies of the university ; but the work of the university initiates men into that career which, as long as they are useful to the world, has no end. Up to the close of their college course youth receive education for their own sake; in the university they are to learn how to be useful to others. And although that end may be attained by many different ways, yet fundamentally it lies in the right directing of enterprise, and toward the forming of public sentiment accordingly, and through the channel of professional effort.
The best service a man can render his fellow-men is generally in the line of his profession ; but there is also an indefinable influence for good or evil wielded by every respectable professional man, through his intercourse with society, and which increases in power and extent with his professional success. Consequently the common duty belonging to all educated men is that of guiding public sentiment aright; that is, in a manner conducive to the good order of community, to the support of enlightened enterprise, and the cause of God, peace, and good will among men.
By profession, in these remarks, we would not be understood to mean only medicine, law, and theology, but every learned occupation, demanding, for true success in it, a basis of liberal culture.
One of the things which it belongs to the college to teach, is the reliability of truth; that there are principles trustwor
1 thy and eternal, many of which can be known indubitably, and ought to be so known by all educated men. This position should be abundantly sustained from every branch of science, that the young mind may be well fortified in regard to it. Immense evil has been done by the false dictum, so often repeated, that nothing can be known for certain. It puts the mind in a state of universal scepticism, defeating all the most valuable ends of education. It is chiefly with a view to the inculcation and full exposition of this doctrine that the precise sciences should be taught in college. The fuller study of mathematics belongs to the engineer or astronomer, and accordingly to university work; the minute study of chemistry belongs to the professions founded thereupon, but their fundamental principles ought to be well enough explained and substantiated for youth in college, to establish in their ininds conviction and confidence in their reliability. A minuteness of instruction, beyond the demands of this purpose, is out of the proper line of college work, and belongs to the university.
At the same time, to prevent the evil of confidence in the the wrong place, the bounds of actual knowledge ought also