abstract, seems to be the true order; and as the young pupil takes the paper, the sticks, the clay, the cube, the sphere, the plant, the mineral, handles them, feels, sees, examines them, before he deals much in verbal definition or long description, so should it be, I think, with much of the illustrative apparatus, mechanical and physical, in the higher grades.

Instead of bringing out the electrical machine, the model engine, the manikin, at the close of the week or month, as was the practice of our old professors after the study of the subject was completed, for the exhibition of the professor's learning or his deftness in manipulation, they should be accessible to the student from the outset. The valve, the piston, the coil should be before him, be in his hands, with the book as an assistant, a reference. What profit in learning from the printed page the description of the air-pump by the pupil who has never seen its structure and workings ! Once and again have I seen a class sent with biting censure to their seats for not defining what had no shape or place in their minds, of which no reminiscence could assist the vision.

And withal, as a delicate perfume, pervading the whole life of the school-room, should be the quiet but firm spirit of persuasive control ; first of all, control of self, which is of itself a power over others, giving that air of calm confidence which is of the very essence of persuasion. Little persuasive power resides in the fretful, worrying soul.

“When will you take Vicksburg ?” was the taunting rebel inquiry of Grant, as he sat down, like a double-faced Janus, between those two opposing armies.

“I shall take Vicksburg, if it takes me thirty years," was his calm, persuasive answer.

A recent novel-writer makes the waiting-maid say of her mistress, “ She has an unfair advantage of me, for she never scolds.” The scolding teacher is often the bad boy's sweetest opportunity, for he can always contrive to answer back, a chance he dearly loves and persistently labors for.

There is, indeed, a worthy indignation at wrong and injustice; but even to this the controlled expression, softened by sorrow for the untoward offender, often gives a twofold force and leaves no cause, in ill-advised words, for long regret. The harsh and rasping tone has no more place in the schoolroom than in the angelic choir.

And not below the teacher's regard, but cementing the very foundations of her influence, is the cheery “Good morning”; the quiet, grateful “ Thank you” for the little favor or polite attention; the thoughtful “Excuse me” for the slight accident or some inadvertency; the glad recognition of well-earned success and sincere regret for failure ; and the kindly “Good-night” at the schoolday's close.

Far more potent than the formal lecture or the solemn homily are these little graceful recognitions of the pupils' rights to respect and gentle courtesy, and go far toward inducing in them those habits of considerate conduct whose fuller development into active principles savors at least of morality.

This cheerful, loving life that is breathing through our lower schools the cold critic and learned professor may scoff at or deny. Safely ensconced on their stern heights, this spring-tide of warmth and sunshine has not reached them. They look out upon the firm rock, hard and forbidding as of old ; the dwarf pine and scrub hemlock wear their last winter's greenness; adown the mountain sides the giant old trees, with their withering foliage at half-mast over the sad approach of civilization, shut from them the beauty of the wakened fields below, and their sighing branches drown the music of bursting buds and the unfolding of tender leaves which shall ere long fill our land with health and happiness.

In the character and conduct of the teacher is the strength and hope of the school; and then will our calling become a profession when we do professional work, and our profession be a noble one when we do its duties nobly.



DIFFER as we may in many matters, we are all agreed in effect that the one chief aim of school-life is character, and fortunately, or unfortunately, to this end, whether we will or not, we are all and always contributing.

It is only when we come to the ways and means for the informing and proper unfolding of a true character that our differences and discussions begin, sometimes these differences going down to the very foundations, the first principles of real education, and again resolving themselves into mere variances in the meaning and use of words.

We need not look long in Webster for the meaning of character, one of those terms understood by all, but so hard to define. The word, which we have from the Greeks, whose ideal was the perfect individual, meant first the point, the graver's tool; then the line, the distinguishing trait, the inner life of the man. The Roman, on the other hand, who, with his genius for organization, cared for the individual only in his relations to the state, had only the superficial term mores, habits, customs, those practices alone which come within the cognizance of the community, the state.

We, who unite in our thought the individual with the citizen, enlarge our idea of character to include them both, believing that the worthy citizen can not be an unworthy man.

It is, perhaps, enough for us to consider that, from the very nature of the case, all character is mental, and that all development of character comes from mental trainiug, from the informing of the mind, and giving it those surroundings that favor its unfolding. The dog, indeed, in a restricted sense may be credited with a character, may be ugly or kind, and the horse gentle or vicious, but it is only as intellectual beings, capable of growth and progress, that we speak of the influence of our schools upon the formation of character.

From the defects of language we are often unconsciously led into the error of separating in our thought those things that are indissolubly connected, and to talk of character building as something different from the training, the disciplining of the mind, and to suppose that we can labor worthily for the unfolding and uplifting of the personal character and life, without that knowledge, that in-formation of the intellectual nature which alone places us above the brute, and makes us worthy of a place in the school-room in the capacity either of teacher or pupil.

The intellectual, industrial, social, and moral character of an individual, as we use the terms in our daily speech, are but different phases of the one and same mind in its workings and manifestations, as we speak of the form, the combination, the coloring, and the worth of a painting

We are considering merely his knowledge and judgment, his likes and dislikes, his sense of obligation, or his power over his material belongings.

The simple elements of character are, it would seem, few in number but manifold in their combinations and applications, and in some measure are all early employed, though the period for the special cultivation and development of the different powers is a matter of the first importance.

Let us consider for a moment the early mental processes of the child. A word is uttered, he places his hand upon his mother's face. Simple sensations both, but giving no information, no knowledge. Again and again the tone, the touch. Memory now recalls the first sensation, notes the resemblances, and there follows the conscious perception. He hears, perceives other sounds unlike the first, and by imagination choosing the essentials of each, he has now a conception of sound, as we select the essentials of a leaf, yet thinking of no individual leaf, and we draw what we call a conventional leaf. With the conceptions multiplied, now can he begin to exercise his reason and judgment, begin to think clearly and consecutively.

With these powers in exercise, with their bright or dark blossoming, under the influence of a warm imagination, of likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, and the whole crowd of passions and desires, there is little more required to make up the life and character of most of us; and, according as they are directed or controlled for wise or unwise purposes, is the worth of our characters.

Little more is required, I said, and yet there remains the one faculty without which, with all our knowledge, we were little more, as regards power and influence, than the veriest puppets with which the skillful mechanic fills

« ElőzőTovább »