Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade, seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expense of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved or civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.”

There appears to be at the present day a great tendency to rate highly the value of objects in communicating instruction to the young, and in support of the practice we sometimes hear quoted, the example and success of Pestalozzi. Now that Pestalozzi did avail himself of such aid as objects could afford him in imparting information to his young charge, and that objects, when skilfully used, may be of service for this purpose, it would be idle to deny. But it may be asked, how may they become useful ? Those who have much considered the subject will perhaps agree with me in saying, chiefly by extending and rendering more precise the pupil's knowledge of language. In saying this, I hope I do not underrate the value of objects as an educational appliance. Some there may be, who expect from these introductions into schools greater advantages than these; but how far they may be justified by experience in doing so, it is for you, Sir, and your readers to judge.

The fallacy of the notion, that things can at all supply the place of verbal language, has long ago been exposed in a manner worthy the absurdity of such an hypothesis. But I think it probable that Mr. Gulliver was one of your early acquaintances, and, if so, you will have been introduced by him to the famous Lagadonian Academicians, one of whose schemes was, you remember, “ for entirely abolishing all words whatsoever, and this was urged as a great advantage in point of health, as well as brevity. For it is plain, that every word we speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives. An expedient was therefore offered, that, since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about them such things as were necessary to express a particular business they are to discourse on. And this invention would certainly have taken place, to the great ease, as well as health, of the subject, if the women, in conjunction with the vulgar and illiterate, had not threatened to raise a rebellion, unless they might be allowed the liberty to speak with their tongues, after the manner of their forefathers; such constant irreconcilable enemies to science are the common people. However, many of the most learned and wise, adhere to the new schemes of expressing themselves by things, which has only this inconvenience attending it; that, if a man's business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged in proportion to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back, unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him. I have often beheld two of these sages almost sinking under the weight of their packs, like pedlars among us, who when they met in the street would lay down their loads, open their sacks, and hold conversation for an hour together, then put up their implements, help each other to resume their burdens, and take their leave.",

An acute metaphysician, in commenting on this passage, justly observes, that the writer has taken notice of only the least evil of this species of eloquence, namely, the difficulty of carrying about all the things necessary for discourse; since all the things of the universe, even though they could be carried about as commodiously as a watch or a snuff-box, could not supply the place of language, which expresses chiefly the relations of things, and which, even when it expresses things themselves, is of no use, but as expressing or implying those relations which they bear to us or to each other.

We have said, it is of the utmost importance that we impart to the children of the lower classes committed to our charge, as extensive a knowledge of language as may be. It is not our present purpose to go into details to prove the truth of this proposition. But to those who may have a wish to see it treated in an intelligible manner, and under various aspects, we may safely recommend your excellent lecture “ On the Importance of Language as a leading branch of Elementary Instruction.” In corroboration of our assertion, we are content to appeal to the experience of that portion of your readers practically engaged in the instruction of the young.

Allusion has been made to Pestalozzi. May I be permitted to occupy a small portion of your valuable space by two or three aphorisms, which contain the pith of this author's views, and which add to my limited experience and observation on the subject under consideration the weight of a great name,

I.-The Ends proposed in Tuition. Ist. To enlarge gradually the sphere of their (the pupil's) intuition, i, e., to increase the number of objects falling under their own immediate perception.

2ndly. To impress upon them those perceptions of which they have become conscious, with certainty, clearness, and precision.

3rdly. To impart to them a comprehensive knowledge of language, for the expression of whatever has become, or is becoming, an object of their consciousness, in consequence either of the spontaneous impulse of their own nature, or the assistance of tuition.

II.The means required for the accomplishment of these Ends. Ist. Intuitive books for elementary instruction are an indispensable requisite.

2ndly. That the method of elucidation traced out in these books must be distinguished by clearness and precision.

3rdly. That upon the ground of the knowledge of things gained in the order and manner prescribed by these books, the children must be led to a knowledge of names or words; and exercised in the use of them, so that they may acquire ease and propriety of expression, even before the period when they are taught spelling.

I stop not now to inquire into the import of the phrase, “ intuitive books” as used by Pestalozzi; but may remark, that for the use of those who may not have given much attention to the subject of his third aphorism, I am not aware that any aids have been made public superior to those set forth in the second number of the English Journal of EduCATION, under the head “ Etymology—What it is, and how to teach it.”

Your obedient Servant, Bradford, Yorkshire.

W. Ross.

HOW TO TEACH SPELLING BY DICTATION, ESPECIALLY

WITH LARGE CLASSES. Rev. SIR,—In the year 1838, when devising and arranging plans of government and methods of instruction for the Lambeth Church of England Commercial School, I became deeply impressed with the fol. lowing considerations :

That it is unwise to allow error to be presented to, or produced in, the mind of a child, merely for the purpose of exposing and eradicating (?) it.

That it is unjust to punish a child, whether by the infliction of mental or bodily pain, on account of the commission of errors which arise solely from involuntary ignorance; and that it is both cruel and absurd to expect from a child a correct knowledge of any subject upon which he has never received adequate instruction.

These considerations led me to lay down, for my own guidance in the arrangement and application of methods of teaching, the following principles :

That the teacher ought to impart to his pupils every necessary information and explanation upon a subject first, and require from them, most rigorously, a fully equivalent return, either orally or in writing, afterwards.

Applying this principle to the teaching of orthography by means of Dictation Spelling Lessons, I devised a method of conducting those exercises, very similar to the one herein described, and which has been in operation for a considerable time in the school at present under my charge.

The teacher having selected a number of sentences, or words, sufficient for the lesson, commences by giving out the letters of the first word, letter by letter, slowly and distinctly, the pupils writing these letters upon their slates, fairly and carefully, as they are given out. When the whole of the letters of a word are given out and written (but not before), the teacher pronounces the word audibly and distinctly, all the pupils repeating it after him simultaneously, in a low tone of voice. The next word is then given out and written letter by letter in the same way, and afterwards pronounced by the teacher and repeated

by the class, and so on until a sentence or a convenient portion of the lesson is given out and written. The teacher then reads those words which he has just given out, and afterwards calls upon the pupils to spell them from their slates, each pupil in turn spelling one word.

At this time those pupils that made mistakes in writing the words may be allowed to correct them; but every such case should be noted down by the teacher.

The teacher then proceeds to dictate another sentence or portion in the same manner, until the whole of the lesson is gone through.

While the dictation is proceeding, the teacher takes care to explain to his pupils, where the stops are to be placed, when capital letters are required, gives them all necessary information respecting orthographical rules, anomalous sounds, silent letters, &c.; and also tells them the meanings and parts of speech of those words with which they were not previously acquainted.

When the whole of the lesson has been given out and explained by the teacher, and written and spelt by the pupils, it is rehearsed from the beginning in the following manner :-Commencing with the first word of the lesson, every pupil in turn spells a word from his slate, and tells its signification and part of speech, together with such other particulars as the teacher may require, until all the words of the lesson are correctly spelt and thoroughly explained.

The experience of several years has proved, that if the teacher dictates the lesson carefully and distinctly in this way, giving all the necessary explanations as he proceeds, very few mistakes will be made by the pupils. Those which do occur should be noted down as being the result of gross and inexcusable carelessness.

It will be seen, that by this method the pupils have every necessary information and explanation afforded to them upon the subject of the lesson, and it, therefore, only now remains to exact from them an adequate return. In order to effect this object, the pupils are directed (immediately after the rehearsal above-mentioned) to rub out from their slates every word of the lesson. When this is thoroughly done, the teacher proceeds to dictate the whole lesson over again word by word, very deliberately and distinctly, but without spelling the words, the pupils being now required to write all the words correctly without any aid whatever.

All mistakes made by the pupils during this reproduction (these are usually very few) are carefully checked and corrected as they occur, by the teacher and his assistants, who for this purpose walk behind the pupils and examine their slates, as they proceed with the lesson. These mis-spelt and corrected words are entered into a book kept for the purpose, in order to form part of a spelling lesson at some future time.

By the method above detailed, every word is presented in a correct form to the mind of the pupil, through the medium of both the eye and the ear. This correct impression is rendered deep and lasting by the close attention which every pupil must of necessity give to the lesson, in order that he may be able to reproduce it correctly afterwards ; and this reproduction also tends to make the impression indelible. At all events, we may hope that by thus pre-occupying the mind with truth we raise a strong, if not an insuperable, barrier to the entrance of error.

I have found this method work so satisfactorily both to teacher and pupils, in schools of entirely dissimilar characters, that I venture to submit it to your notice, sincerely trusting, that should you think fit to insert it in your Journal, it may prove equally useful to others.

Most respectfully yours, Parkhurst, Nov. 13, 1843.

E. C. DAINTREE.

ON THE VENTILATION OF SCHOOL-ROOMS. Suppose a school-room to be 30 feet square and 9 feet high, it will contain 13,996,000 cubic inches of atmospheric air. According to Davy and Thompson, two accurate and scientific chemists, one individual respires and contaminates 6,500 cubic inches of air in one minute :50 scholars will respire 325,000 cubic inches in the same time. In about 40 minutes all the air of such a room will have become contaminated, if fresh supplies are not provided. The quantity of carbonic acid produced by the respiration of 50 scholars will be about 750 cubic inches in an hour.

From these calculations, we must see how soon the air of a school. room becomes unfit to sustain the animal powers, and how unfavourable to vigorous mental efforts such a contaminated atmosphere must prove to be. To avoid this most serious evil is a desideratum, which has not yet been reached in the construction of school-houses. In my opinion, every house and room, which is closed for any considerable time upon a concourse of people, should be warmed with pure air from out. of-doors, heated by furnaces placed in a cellar (and every school-house should have a cellar), or in some contiguous apartment, so that the supply of air for the fire should not be from the school-room. Furnaces for warming external air may be constructed cheaply, so as effectually to answer the purposes of warmth and ventilation

When a quantity of warm fresh air is forced into a school-room by means of a furnace, the foul air is forced out at every crevice, and at the ventilating passages; and the currents are all warm quite to these passages. But if the room is warmed by a stove or fire-place, the cold air from without rushes in at every passage and every crevice, and while the parts of the body nearest the fire are too warm, the current of cold air rushing to the fire to sustain the combustion, keeps all the other parts cold and uncomfortable. This is a most direct way to produce disease, for nothing can affect the system more unfavourably than currents of cold air coming upon us when quite warm.

I have said that school-houses should have cellars under them. The floor of a building without a cellar is always cold, and often damp; this tends to keep the feet of the scholars cold, while the head, in a region of air much warmer, will be kept hot. This is both unnatural and unhealthy. The feet should always be kept warm, and the head cool. No person can enjoy good health, whose feet are habitually cold. In schoolrooms heated by stoves the feet are very liable to be cold, while the

« ElőzőTovább »