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son has defined it) “the purveyor of reason; the power which places those images before the mind, upon which the judgment is to be exercised, and which treasures up the determinations that are passed, as the rule of future actions, or grounds of subsequent conclusions ?” There are, indeed, persons so ignorant or injudicious as to consider the cultivation of this faculty as the primary object in education; and who look upon the accurate remembrance of facts, names, and dates, as a convincing proof of first-rate abilities. A little reflection on this radical error will lead to the recognition of one of the first principles upon which a sound and efficient course of mental discipline depends, namely, that each power of the mind should receive its due cultivation and consequent expansion, by means of exercises adapted to its progressive strength. How often must it have forced itself on the attention of persons engaged in the responsible and arduous duties of tuition, that while a youth has been exceedingly dull in “memoriter" exercises, he has been very successful in his literary compositions ; or equally unskilled perhaps, in both, has exhibited no ordinary ability in the more abstract studies, as geometry, algebra, arithmetic, &c.
From these considerations it must be apparent that nothing can be more fallacious in itself, or more unfair towards the youthful mind, than to form an estimate of its capacity from one of its members—(“ ab uno disce omnes” cannot here be applied;) or, by insisting on the strength of the memory as a criterion of its general vigour, to make it the mental bed of Procrustes, to which minds of every calibre, and of the utmost diversity of organization, must conform.
If, then, the preceding remarks be allowed to carry with them any weight, and it be admitted that instruction, in order to prove effectual to the end proposed, must address itself to other faculties besides the memory, and that, where many are to be taught, it is not possible to devote sufficient time to explain every lesson separately to each indi. vidual, the utility of lectures--nay, their indispensable necessity-in schools, must be self-evident. Another consideration much in favour of these familiar lectures is, that they are always acceptable to school-boys, and what they take a delight in they are most likely to profit by; not but that a partiality for this mode of instruction may sometimes be delusive, as when the lecture supplies the place of a more difficult or less attractive lesson (for it is always more easy to listen than to study); the fact, however, may be ascertained, by leaving a subject unfinished, and volunteering an extra lecture to complete it, in play hours, leaving it optional to attend it or not: a summary also of each lecture, in writing, may be exacted previous to the commencement of the ensuing one, taking places, in each class, for superior accuracy and fulness.
While, however, the important advantages of this mode of teaching any of the physical sciences, as astronomy, chemistry, and other branches of natural philosophy, will be readily allowed, it does not seem to be so generally understood that in many branches of human knowledge which, from their nature, do not admit of being verified by the senses, they are equally necessary—perhaps even more so—such subjects being incapable of ocular demonstration, as grammar, logic, rhetoric, &c. It is a fact well known to experienced teachers, that the same difficul.
ties usually present themselves to the majority of boys in the same class, while pursuing a similar course of study; the same explanatory observations will therefore be generally applicable and serviceable. Thus the lessons being directed to a given subject, and the lectures arising out of that subject become mutually illustrative and subservient. The lessons will furnish the data, the lectures will exemplify and explain, The one will engage the memory, the other furnish food for the understanding, or enable it to digest that which it has already received.
None but they who have tried the experiment and witnessed the result, can conceive the alacrity with which boys will commit tasks to memory, when they know they are to serve as the text for a lively and interesting disquisition.
Questions may be aptly introduced, and will greatly tend to fix the information in the youthful mind; or a lively interest may be excited, as Schefferus observes, “ per interrogatiunculas suaves jucundasque eorum quæ lecta vel audita fuerunt." Not such questions as are usually appended to school books-a mere mechanical contrivance to save the teacher the labour of thought-but lively interrogations springing impromptu from the subject under consideration. “ Such questions, it is thought,” says an intelligent modern writer, “ should be left entirely to the discretion of the teacher. He is the best qualified to suggest and to frame them; and the method of leaving him to put such as occur to him during the time of instruction, has this great advantage over that which supplies him with a list already prepared—that it allows him to vary them according to the information and capacity of the learner, as well as prevents the interest from flagging by the frequent repetition of the same lesson. If the best system of teaching be that which is most calculated to keep alive the attention of both preceptor and pupil, the method here recommended seems well entitled to consideration; inasmuch as it tends more than any other to sustain the interest and vigi. lance of both, by compelling the one to originate questions, and by forcing the other to trust to his own resources for answers.”
The progress of the pupil, then, must be estimated, not by the number of chapters or lessons he has committed to memory, but by that portion of knowledge which he has made his own by study and reflection; and no better aid to the accomplishment of this important end has hitherto been devised, than the frequent use of illustrative and familiar discourses, which, by placing the various subjects of study in an interesting and attractive light, may lead the susceptible mind of youth to a partiality for learning and intellectual pursuits.
Returning from these somewhat digressive remarks, I would devote the remainder of this paper to a consideration of the advantages arising from frequent familiar lectures as a part of the regular routine of school business ; as a most efficient means of imparting instruction, and as a subject to which the attention of tutors and others interested in the welfare of the rising generation, might be very usefully directed; not as anything new, except in its application to youthful studies,-for the beneficial effects of this mode of instruction have been long recognized.
The technical terms and definitions, the acquisition of which must necessarily precede the study or explanation of any science, being once entrusted to memory, that faculty has, for the present, done its part; and it remains, by apt illustrations, questions, and exercises, to render these acquisitions available, by proving whatever admits of or requires demonstration, elucidating what is obscure, and, in short, reducing to practice the theoretical knowledge previously acquired. Now this can be done most conveniently by oral instructions ; by these the attention is quickened, and a lively interest is excited by witnessing the experimental utility and application of many branches of knowledge, which, without this, would appear dull and repulsive. There is scarcely any subject so unattractive as not to become interesting in the hands of a skilful lecturer. Even the least amusing details will be more readily remembered when called into requisition, and rendered tangibly useful by immediate application.
But besides the direct and more obvious benefits of the explanatory system, in simplifying what was complex, and by supplying illustrations and examples which books cannot be expected to furnish ; it is attended with collateral results of almost equal though less apparent value. These lectures afford desirable opportunities of inculcating a love of science, and of suggesting persuasives to study, diligence, and the exer. tion of mental energy. Many whose attention it is difficult, if not impossible to arrest by ordinary lessons, will be caught by a happy description or comparison, and excited to farther research, in private, in order to satisfy that curiosity which the partial explanations and suggestive remarks of the lecturer have awakened. Thus books and lectures re-act upon each other—the one will be called in to supply the omissions of the other. Nor are the benefits of this mode of teaching confined to the pupil : the tutor also, from a consciousness that he is instructing many, at the same expence of time and trouble as if his attention were directed to one only, puts forth all his latent energies. The appearance of a circle of attentive and inquisitive faces, quickens his powers of illustration ; a mutual feeling of interest in the subject is the consequence; much wholesome instruction and cheerful explanation is given, which would not have occurred to the mind while occupied in instructing a solitary pupil.
Occasionally a respectful question will give life to the address, and suggest additional rernarks ; ideas will flow, and, clothed in suitable language, will give a warmth, and a reality, and an absorbing interest to the lesson, which will render the allotted time too short for its full discussion; the curiosity excited will be left unsatisfied ; and recourse will be had to reading to supply the deficiency.
The preceding remarks apply not only, or indeed principally, to demonstrative lectures on experimental subjects, upon which information can scarcely be effectually communicated in any other way; but to topics of instruction which cannot so well be made apparent to the eye.
To the preceding plans two objections may possibly be raised by persons who are nervously afraid of innovation ; first, that such a course of instruction, if generally adopted in schools, would greatly augment the labours of the instructor, and secondly, that they would too much abridge those of the pupil. As to the first of these objections, the experienced teacher, who re
collecting how much of his time is unavoidably frittered away in replying to individual inquiries, and in unsatisfactory attempts at explanation of difficulties as they arise ; in barren endeavours or ineffectual wishes; will not fail to perceive, that by this mode of anticipating the evil of constant interruptions to the current business of the school, much valuable time may be saved for more useful purposes. Besides, he who has long been in habits of familiar intercourse with youth, is aware that most of the difficulties of schoolboys in respect to their studies are so uniformly the same, in a great majority of instances, that they may almost all be calculated upon with considerable accuracy; and he will be able so to direct his observations, and adapt his explanations, as to obviate a host of questions, and thus be enabled by the economy of time, to enter much more fully into the necessary elucidations of the subject than would have been otherwise practicable.
With regard to the second objection, that this method would too much facilitate the performances of the pupil, it must be borne in mind, that though the memory be less burthened with dry verbal lore, the understanding will be kept in much more active operation; this will be secured by the performance of exercises, answering questions in writing, the drawing of maps and diagrams; and, in short, by reducing every successive acquisition to a practical form : as in arithmetic, when once a given rule is acquired, all subsequent proficiency depends upon actual calculation ; so that the exertion of the memory for half an hour, in learning the rule, will furnish the groundwork for the practical exercises of a week; and why may not a similar method be adopted with other branches of study ?
Until of late years, most of the departments into which education was divided, were so wrapt up in dry details, and uninterestingly definitions, that a considerable time necessarily elapsed before a youth could appreciate the value of what he had been so long studying; like a person travelling in a post-chaise with the blinds closed, he perceived not any of the beauties of the country through which he was passing; and was only convinced at the end of his tedious journey, that he had not been travelling in vain. .
How different the case where explanation goes hand in hand with technical information; where the enlargement of the understanding keeps pace with the acquisitions of the memory; then, indeed, learning becomes what in its own nature it is calculated to be,-a delight-a luxury !--nor does Milton's flowery description of the hill of science, when thus ascended, seem more beautiful than true. “I shall strait conduct you” says he “ to a hill side, where I will point you out the right path of a virtuous and noble education ; laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else, so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospects and melodious sounds, on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming.” Sept. 17th, 1843.
PARISH SCHOOLS—ADVANTAGES OF INSPECTION-MIDDLE SCHOOLS----FACTORY
BILL A GOOD RIDDANCE. With reference to the first of these measures, that one referring to the education of the poor in manufacturing districts, I have stated to you already, on occations similar to the present, and I know not that I can too often, or too emphatically repeat, that I regard the education of the people, in connexion with the Church and her clergy, as a matter of pre-eminent importance. To have the children of the poor brought up in a saving knowledge of the gospel, as taught and explained by our Holy Apostolic Church: to have them early made acquainted with their parochial minister, so that they may grow up with a personal reverence and regard for him: to have them conducted early to their parish church, that they may gain the habit, -we all know the influence of early formed habits on the current of our future lives,—the habit of regular attendance at the courts of the Lord's house. These are, I would fain believe, manifest and practical benefits, which few will be found able, and still fewer willing, to gainsay.
The parish school should be as it were, the nursery of the parish church. The parish schoolmaster should be the assistant, the coadjutor, the lay curate, so to speak, of the parish priest. As a deduction from which it follows, that the education of the future schoolmaster should be more than hitherto carefully watched, superintended, and provided for: and training colleges should be, as they are becoming, a necessary feature in all improved systems of education.
Further it is worthy of remark, that great benefit has been found to arise from the introduction of periodical school inspection, under the direction of a well qualified individual (or individuals) selected by the bishop. Such an Inspector* having made the national system of education his study, is able, from his knowledge and experience, to offer frequently, suggestions of great value to the conductors of schools. In various cases he is able to excite beneficially a spirit of einulation among the scholars. And many a schoolmaster, harassed by his oft repeated task, feels refreshed, has his energies renewed, and his strength recruited, by the visits of one who can appreciate his labours, and through whom his exertions may be made known to the constituted authorities of the diocese. Inspection leads to uniformity of parochial school teaching Inspection gives an authorised character to such teaching. And inspection is found to be the only really effective means by which accurate knowledge can be obtained by our church rulers, of the state and condition of scriptural education in any diocese. This inspection, observe, is altogether different from that suggested a few years since by certain lay members of the then government, which might have introduced into parochial schools an authority irrespective of the legitimate exercise of episcopal jurisdiction. The diocesan inspection here advocated is altogether based upon church principles. And it is a mode, perhaps it is the best, if not the only mode, all things considered, of giving effect, according to altered times, changed habits, and improved forms of parochial teaching, to the 59th, the 77th, the 78th, and the 79th Canons,
Again, the education of the ranks above the poor in scriptural knowledge and attachment to our Catholic and Apostolic Church, is no less, if it be not more vitally important, than that of any other order or degree or persons. With the middle ranks resides great power for good or for evil. To them, more perhaps
* Or Inspectors.- In the Diocese of Bath and Wells there is an Assistant Inspector for each district.