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ON DICTATION AND COMPOSITION.
Dictation, as a branch of instruction, has reference chiefly to the spelling of words; that is, certain words or sentences are written by the scholar upon his slate at the time when they are read to him by the teacher. This method is found to be far superior to the common one of teaching to spell by setting them to get by heart, as it is called, a long column of words, without any explanation. How tiresome, how unintellectual, to pore for hours over words of many syllables ! a method as calculated, as any that could be adopted, to make learning hateful to a child. The principal difficulty to be overcome, is that of correcting every mistake on the slate of every child. To attempt this would extend such an exercise far beyond the time commonly set apart for it. If there were time sufficient, such a minute investigation would indeed amply repay the teacher for all his labour. When such a plan, however, is not praticable, the following methods may be adopted. First :- Choose one slate from the mass, generally the one in which the greatest blunders are expected to be found; go through every sentence slowly and distinctly, drawing the pencil through every mis-spelt word, causing some boy to spell the word correctly, and every one who has the same word incorrectly spelled, to draw his peneil through it at the same time, and to put in its place, or above it, the same word in its correct form. In like manner go through every succeeding sentence, till the whole exercise is completed. Secondly:—Go regularly through the class, causing each boy to spell that word, which in order of sequence, falls to his turn-word by word-boy by boy-till the whole lesson has been gone through. Thirdly :-Whilst reading out the words or sentences, the teacher can go round the class, and wherever an error is seen, the pencil is to be drawn through that word. These mis-spelt words are then to be given to the class at the termination of the exercise. Other expedients may be adopted, which an experienced teacher will be able to call to his assistance when necessity demands. Strive always to interest and keep up the attention ; if the spirits be allowed to flag, if listlessness steals on, the progress will be very slow. Boys will never be awed into a love for knowledge, they must be wooed, and hence she ought to be arrayed in her most alluring guise.
Composition refers to the reproduction by the scholar in writing of a lesson previously communicated to him orally by his teacher. Suppose the master has been giving the class a lesson on gold, or any object; at the close of the lesson, he tells the children to take their slates and to write out as much as they can remember, keeping as closely as possible to the order pursued in giving the lesson. Composition, then, is not merely an exercise in spelling, but at the same time an exercise on language. The teacher can then point out any grammatical errors, or any ambiguity of construction which may occur in the lesson, thus leading the child to the proper expression of his thoughts-teaching him to clothe his ideas in a correct and simple garb-a most important point in the education of the young. In fact, no branch of knowledge may be made more effectual in leading boys to see the practical utility and value of knowledge. But, it must be of a kind calculated to interest, to call into exercise their mental powers, else its efficacy will be but limited. What is the use of writing? not alone that one may be able to imitate some finely-engraved lines with exactness and precision—that part is only the initiatory step, and if the pupil were carried no farther, he might indeed be a splendid copyist, but the great end of education would not be attained. The chief end of learning to write is, that we may be able to combine our ideas so as to form sentences and paragraphs, and this can only be accomplished by the help of a kindred study-grammar; hence these two ought always to be united. Battersea.
W. Mc LEOD.
ON THE EXPENSE OF UNIVERSITY EDUCATION. Sir,—The letter of the Tutor of Caius, which appeared in your last, does not at all rebut, in the main, the charge of unnecessary expense, which is usually brought against university education. He is the first member of the university I have ever met that did not boldly apologise for the proper expenses of college life, on the score of excluding vulgar aspirants, though, as experience testifies, a very fallacious plea. The Tutor of Caius states the expenses of board and lodging in college to be £90, in round numbers—I should state it at more. But if we take his statement, and remember that the student is not resident in college above six months, surely £15 is a somewhat exhorbitant expenditure for the student to incur in each month, on account of the bare necessaries of life. It seems certainly to me a most unnecessary expense, when I consider that the student is excluded from all luxuries and indulgences, when he is called upon to pay a sum of money sufficient to include them. Allow me to remind the Tutor of Caius, that the society in which the collegian mixes is commonly supposed to be one of the great advantages of university education ; but if he has to invest so much capital in the purchase of board and lodging, he must be often prevented from entering into society to any beneficial extent. Here is the great rock upon which our universities, I conceive, are spliting, by their showing more tenderness to the perquisites of the tradesmen and college servants than to the pockets of the students. Men do not grumble when they have left college, embarrassed with pecuniary difficulties, so much at the expenses of tuition, whether public or private, as at the needless and unwarrantable manner in which their ready cash has been extracted to enrich the college cook and steward.—1 am, Sir, yours, very truly,
A CAMBRIDGE MASTER OF Arts.
PLAY-GROUND AND GALLERY AS USED IN THE TRAINING
A play-ground and a gallery, with the master as superintendent and trainer, is a new principle in popular education.
The play-ground and gallery are an indispensable platform in training the child. By training the child, we mean his intellectual, physical, and moral faculties and habits, simultaneously or combined ; not the physical training merely in one place, the intellectual in another, and the religious in a third, but the whole each day, and under one superintendence. At home, training may be conducted to a certain extent at the fireside ; but home training, highly valuable and important as it is, no more makes up for the school, than the school does for the family. The child who is exclusively trained at home, is not so well fitted for the duties of acitve life. He is ignorant of much that he ought to know, and which he ought to be trained to shun; more particularly, he is ignorant of himself; his real dispositions and character have not been fully developed, and that at a period of life when there is a reasonable hope of their being checked and subdued. The boy is only in real life when at play and at study among his companions in years and pursuits. Home adds peculiarly to the moral, and the school to the intellectual training; it is only when both are united, however, that the child is under a complete training. This combination, with the master as superintendent, guide, director, and companion, forms moral school training, and is one of the great peculiarities of the Training System. Next in importance and influence to which is “picturing out in words” in the intellectual department.
The physical exercises are not new, having been practised under what is termed the Infant School System, before the establishment of the Training System.
When we speak of the gallery, we mean not merely a gallery or flight of ascending steps for seating the whole pupils, but one used as it is under the system which we are attempting to analyse; and when we speak of a play-ground, we mean not merely an open space of 100 or 120 feet long, by 50 or 60 feet wide, for 100 or 120 children to amuse themselves in the fresh air, and for exercise, but one under the immediate superintendence of the master for physical health-the cultivation of proper physical habits—the developement of real character, and, in conjunction with the gallery, for moral and intellectual training. A play-ground, without the master being present as superintendent, is literally a mischief ground. The gallery, with its other arrangements, and the mode of managing it, saves fully as much time in conducting the ordinary elementary lessons, as is occupied in the direct moral training. The gallery, by enabling nearly the whole person of every child to be in view, affords the best opportunity of securing the attention of the whole scholars, developing their ideas, and receiving simultaneous, as well as individual answers.
The play-ground, or “uncovered school," permits the super-abundant animal spirits or « steam” to escape, while at the same time it adds to the health of the pupils, affords relaxation, and secures contentment with their other lessons in-doors, without the usual coercion which is necessary when there is no playground; at the same time, as we have already said, when freely at play the real character and dispositions of the whole children are developed, which, in any case of fault observed by the master, on their return to the gallery, he can notice and analyse for the benefit of the whole, on the practical principles laid down in Stow's “ Moral Training and the Training System.”
It is as impracticable for a teacher to train morally and intellectually on the simple and natural mode of the system, without a gallery and a play-ground, as it would be for a mechanic to work without his tools. The having both these auxiliaries does not form a training school without the trained master, and the master who is without these is of course unsuccessful. The frequent deviations from this indispensable arrangement, are the causes why there are so many failures in schools having the system professedly in view, but which are only imitation training schools, being either without a trained master, or a playground and a gallery.
There is no doubt a great difficulty in purchasing or even finding sufficient ground for the purpose, and it is extremely high priced in the lanes and streets of a crowded city where moral training is imperiously required; but independently of the moral improvement of the people, the actual cost would be much less than the police, bridewell prison, houses of refuge, public prosecutions, and transportation of criminals.* Moral school training, under God's blessing, would do much for society. We have no hope, indeed, that it would root out sin ; but fifteen years' experience and observation of the practical working of the system, show that its establishment would greatly diminish crime and increase virtue.
The “sympathy of numbers” is the most powerful practical principle in social life, and more particularly in large towns and villages. It is peculiarly so with the young, who are the most impressible of society. The conviction of the power of this principle fifteen or sixteen years ago, led to the addition of the play-ground and the gallery to one or two schools, with their accompanying exercises, under the master, in Bible, intellectual training, &c., as an addition to popular education, and as models of antidote to the demoralizing influence of large towns. The result in Glasgow and everywhere at home and abroad, where trained masters have gone from the Normal Seminary, of which these model schools formed the basis and an integral part, has been most satisfactory and encouraging:-( Communicated by Mr. Stow)
A SPECIMEN OF RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION A CENTURY AGO, IN A LETTER TO AN ONLY DAUGHTER, AT SCHOOL, AND ABOUT
THE AGE OF FOURTEEN. MY DEAR SUE,—The instructions I have left for your brothers, I desire you to copy; because most of them are of general use to young persons, and therefore I shall only add here what I think the difference of your sex and manner of life requires.
Though you are a year younger than Fiennes, yet I doubt not your sense of my tender love to you, which will make my advice sink deep into your heart.
Whilst you are at school, the rules of the house you live in will sufficiently employ your time; when you return home, beware of idleness, which introduces all manner of sin.
Besides morning and evening prayer, you may generally dedicate some time in the middle of the day for devotion, especially when you have not the advantage of public prayers; and after the example of holy David,t not only morning and evening, but at noon-day, present your petitions to God. And that your prayers may have a due effect on your life, employ some minutes before you begin them, to put your mind in a proper disposition to address the great Author of your being.
In the morning consider what business or company you are likely to engage in, and what particular temptations are most apt to attend them ; against which arm yourself by resolution ; resist the devil and he will flee from you. To give you one instance: if you apprehend your papa, or any other person under whose direction you live, may tax you with omission of duty, or any indiscretion, the first thought that arises in your heart may very probably be to contrive to conceal your error, though at the expense of truth. This is to be conquered by considering the baseness of a lie; that it is much less disgrace to be found in a fault to which all, especially young persons, are subject, than to be found a liar, who, when notorious, is never believed, though they speak the truth. But
* We have heard of a plan for providing play-grounds in the densest part of such cities as London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow, by arching the ground floor, and making a flat roof of the newly discovered pitch or asphaltum, which might suit for two small schools.
of Psalm iii. 4 ; v. 3; xxxv. 18.-Haggai i. 7.—Prov. iv. 26..Eccl. xii. 1. * Psalm cxix. 59.-1 Peter v. 8.-James iv. 7.-1 Thess. v. 5, 6.-Ephes. vi, 11, 13
this only in regard to the world ; the arguments are much stronger in point of duty. The God of truth has pronounced a dreadful doom against such as make a lie; even that they shall for ever be condemned to the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.* Avoid, therefore, the first steps that lead to this sin -equivocation! In short, be content sometimes to be found in a fault. I choose to instance this as being the most common vice in young persons; but whatever evil you can foresee, may in this manner be guarded against, if you furnish yourself with arguments by diligently reading the holy Scriptures, some portions of which should always be added to your morning devotion, and generally some pages in a book of divinity; for the morning hours are not only most in our power, but the fittest season to dress the mind, and arm it against the various chances of the day.
I will suppose you to rise early enough to employ some hours before breakfast in this great end of your being ;t after which, music, work, or other housewifery employment, will fill your time till noon, when it will become you to dress with as little expense of time as cleanly neatness will permit.
Your mid-day devotions must be performed at such times as prudence directs.
The afternoons are most properly the seasons for conversation and diversion. Among the last I reckon ingenious books, as history, poetry, the most engaging, but the most dangerous, if not read with caution: in the choice of which be guided by the opinions of good and wise persons; for though many virtues are set in the fairest light, and many excellent morals taught in many plays, yet are the generality of these sort of writings not proper for a modest mind to hear or read. But what I chiefly warn you against is the modern novels, or pretended secret histories, which are filled with intrigues, or vicious passions, set off with all the charms of eloquence. Romances are generally innocent, but apt to fill the mind with unprofitable thoughts and vain ideas; therefore to be seldom read. Dancing, in proper company, I have always thought one of the best diversions for young persons, because it promotes the health ; but then it should be as much as possible confined to good hours. Cards and dice are the least useful, as neither improving the mind nor the body, and very frequently producing ill-humour; and are more proper amusements for old people, whose decayed eyes permit not the long use of work or reading. Take one certain rule for all diversions—viz. that they cease to be innocent either by too frequent repetition, or when much time is spent in them at once ; for their right use is, by unbend. ing the mind, to make it more fit to return to the business of our several callings.
When you retire to your evening devotions, recollect your thoughts, words, and actions the day past; and where you have transgressed, ask pardon of God, and resolve to avoid it for the future. Be not frightened, as if this were too great a task ; for you will find five minutes sufficient for the work, if performed constantly; and I know of no human means more instrumental to piety
As your years increase, you will, I hope, according to the direction of our excellent mother the Church, enlarge your devotions on all Fridays and vigils;& also join abstinence to prayer if your health permit; that must also direct you in the observance of Lent. But if you should not be able to fast, you must never
* Psalm cxli. 3.- Rev. xxi. 8; xxii. 15.-Prov. xii. 22.-Col. iii. 9.-Ephesians iv. 25; v. 15, 16, 17.
+ Prov. iv. 23.-Eccles. xi. 6.-Prov. vi. 9, 10, 11.-Rom. xii. 11.—2 Thess. iii. 10, 11.- Prov. xxxi. 15, 19, 27.—1 Peter iii. 3, 4,-1 Tim. ii. 9.
Psalm iv. 4 ; lxxvii. 6.-Gal. vi. 4, 5.-1 Cor. xi. 31.-Psalm li. 3.- 1 John i. 8.9.-Psalm xix. 13, 14.-Job xxxiv. 31, 32.-Ezek. xviii. 21.
§ Joel ii. 12, 13.-Matt. vi. 16, 17, 18.-2 Cor. xiii. 5.-Job xiii. 23.-—Proverbs xxviii. 13.-Hos. xiv. 2.—1 Peter i. 13.-Heb. xii. 11.-Col. iii. 5.