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ON PRESENT DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF SOUND
Having before submitted a few thoughts on certain broad principles to be kept in view in the establishment of adult schools on a permanent basis, I think it may be useful now to advert to some leading difficulties, arising from the existing state of things, with a view of stimulating into activity the exertions of those whose particular office in the church or state more especially calls upon them to promote these objects.
I propose at present to confine the attention of your readers to the three following points :- 1st, the overgrown state of parishes ; 2ndly, the principle of extensive unions; and 3rdly, the widely-spread feeling of aversion to authoritative teaching.
As to the existing state of parishes in this country, everybody knows that they practically deny the principle of the parochial system, which is, to provide sound spiritual instruction, suited to each inhabitant; and, of course, unless the country be broken up into parishes of moderate extent, within the scope of pastoral superintendence, the evils resulting from such neglect will continue to increase in frightful proportion. It is true, the work of supplying additional districts with churches and schools has been going on to a considerable extent within the last few years, but not on anything like a principle of extending the parochial system to meet the wants of an increasing and altering population.
Now we have to remember, that the divine commission of the church, as the teacher of all, remains ever the same, and that her powers as an instrument of grace decay not with time; we are, therefore, charged and encouraged to persevere, each in his own calling, to bring about the full development of the church, and her complete adaptation to the wants of all; taking care, however, as the surest way, under God, of attaining this blessed result, that all our arrangements in the meantime, however crippled by outward circumstances, are based upon sound church principles.
The apparent disposition of the legislature to extend, rather than to contract, the principle of unions of parishes, suggests a second difficulty in the way of a duly organised scheme of adult schools, under parochial superintendence. The working of a systern of extended unions is calculated to efface all impressions of neighbourship between the rich and poor, and to break up all the ties of mutual dependence, which, for the general good, it is so desirable to cultivate and strengthen. Still, our regrets will not avail to remedy the evil, which will go on increasing, unless counteracted by the exercise of some adequate corrective principle. I think, then, this difficulty strongly inculcates the duty of at all times recognising our fellow membership in “Christ's body, the church.” However unpopular may be the following out, in all its completeness, of the duty of honouring all men, on the ground of oneness in Christ, it is, in my judgment, most essential to the permanency of any efforts for the spread of sound education. But we have a third difficulty to contend with in the growing feeling
VOL. 111.--NOVEMBER, 1845.
of the public mind against authoritative teaching. Here is matter for grave apprehension, especially when we consider that parliament have lately by their acts enunciated the principle that, as to the subject-matter of christian education, there exists so much contrariety of opinion, that no fixed ideas can be put forth with the authority of truth.
This difficulty reminds us that we have a positive revelation of God's will for our guidance, and “the church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth,” for its interpreter, so that we must, in spite of all the confounding tendencies of the age, keep to this everlasting standard of truth, as the groundwork of all our teaching.
It becomes necessary, it is true, to adapt the manner of this teaching to the external circumstances of the age, the very purpose of the church being to correct the various disorganisations of human opinion and practice, which receive their impressions from the things of the day; but the substance and breadth of the church's teaching stand upon the everlasting principles of revealed truth.
I have thus alluded in a cursory manner to three great topics, which must be taken into account as having a real bearing upon the present question : persons like your readers will, I trust, hence conclude, that to delay the practical consideration of this subject is highly dangerous, inasmuch as the difficulties which surround it are of a progressive character, and we are now suffering, in a great measure, the consequences of past neglect.
There is, however, to my mind, a brighter view to be taken, namely, that as nothing can happen in the world without God's permission, even our very difficulties have a purpose to answer, and will not be allowed to crush us, if only we humbly go forward in the work, sensible of our own intrinsic weakness, but at the same time confident of our strength in God. Disparity of worldly strength need no more deter us from facing these difficulties, than did the gigantic power of Goliath hinder the youthful David from advancing to conquer in the name of the living God.
W. SPENCE. Upper Clapton,
Oct. 14th, 1845.
ON THE PUNISHMENT OF GIRLS IN PAROCHIAL
Sir,-- In the July number of your publication there was an inquiry from A Constant Reader,” respecting the best mode of correcting refractory girls in our parochial schools, that question, as regards boys, having been brought forward in a former number. I am not aware that this inquiry has been answered ; and having had considerable experience in the education of the children of the poorer classes, I send these few hints as they have occurred to me, feeling sure, that if not deemed to the purpose, you will not insert them.
In the first place, I disclaim altogether the necessity of any regular system of coercion in any long established, well regulated school,
whether composed of boys or girls. If it is necessary to the maintenance of order, then we may be quite sure the master or mistress is more to blame than the children. I am thoroughly convinced that though all schools are of course subject to the occasional outbreak of insubordination from refractory subjects, extreme measures would rarely it ever, be required, were the order and discipline of the school inflexibly and constantly maintained. But I presume your correspondent has mainly in view the difficulties attendant on a newly formed school, when, a great variety of unpromising characters being suddenly perhaps brought together, it requires more than ordinary skill (if to some it may not even appear utterly impossible), to establish order without extreme measures. But here, I cannot help ihinking, lies the great mistake under which so many act who are employed in the education of the children of the poor: they judge (and perhaps naturally so) that because children have been subject to rough and injudicious management at home, that therefore they must be met with the like rough management at school, if he would expect to bring them into order. Now this is not the way our Heavenly Father deals with his rebellious and wayward children, and I am quite sure experience teaches us that it is not the best or the surest way of dealing with ours. I am persuaded (as a general rule, of course not without exceptions) that the more unpromising the subjects we have to deal with, the more care should we display to treat them at all times with the utmost gentleness and quietness ; let them see and feel the difference between the conduct of those who act from christian principles, and that of those who are actuated by nothing but selfishness; let them be made thoroughly sensible, that all our conduct towards them is invariably dictated by love for their souls, and by strict principles of justice in the correction of their faults, and the most refractory among them cannot fail after a time to be more or less influenced by it; let their faults invariably be treated, not as offences against ourselves, but as sins against the Most High God, carefully discriminating between such as are simply to our inconvenience, and such as are really sinful in themselves,-between such as proceed from previous neglect and bad habits at home, and such as are decidedly the fruit of bad disposition; let us show them that we can bear patiently and quietly with natural stupidity, slowness, awkwardness, &c., in fact with whatever may come under the denomination of unintentional faults, reserving all real displeasure and severity for such as are sinful and offensive to God.
As regards rules, let them be as few in number and as reasonable as possible, but at the same time make it quite certain that not the slightest infringement of any one of them will ever be allowed with impunity. This is one great secret of maintaining order in our schools, and though apparently self-evident, it is, comparatively speaking, rarely practised; for instance, if one of the rules be that the school assembles at 9.o'clock, how frequently is it the case that a quarter, or even half an hour is allowed for the gathering; whereas it is as easy for them to come precisely at 9, as at a quarter past, and the fact of being allowed to evade one rule so easily, is a precedent with the rest for making like attempts. Rules cannot be too strictly enforced. On the modes of punishment usually adopted in our girls' schools, I
would first remark, that a strong objection is attached to all those which are made either wholly, or chiefly, to consist in their being exposed to the gaze of others. Timidity and modesty is what, above every thing, it is our duty, as well as our policy, to encourage and cherish in the softer sex ; and I would ask, if this end is likely to be promoted by such a constant hardening process as usually takes place in our parochial schools. Besides, it defeats its own end, for what in this way would be overwhelming to a modest character, is scarcely any punishment at all to a bold and forward one; and even as regards these forward ones, would it not be one step towards making them less so, if they were invariably treated as though they really possessed the modesty they ought to have. I throw this hint out for the consideration of those engaged in education. I am sure it is best to let all punishment, as regards girls at least, be as private as possible. I should suggest that an empty dull room should be attached to every large girls' school, to which the mistress may at any time be at liberty to banish a refractory girl during school hours, or else retire with her then, or after school, for the purpose of correction, admonition, and private prayer, if advisable. This, with the occasional deprivation of a pleasant scripture lesson, or any other pleasures the mistress may be in the habit of indulging them with, would, in the hands of a judicious and sensible woman, be all that was requisite to ensure her due authority, provided she always acted firmly and consistently. As regards the use of a cane for girls, it is certainly very undesirable as a frequent mode of punishment, but a judicious mistress may sometimes find either that or a rod useful to have by her ; and I should not be afraid to trust her with one, provided it be used at all times with the utmost calmness, always in private, very rarely, and almost entirely in the correction of the younger members of the school, ever remembering that restraints of all kinds are almost always to be preferred before this latter alternative. Rewards are another powerful means in the government of a school. But I have already trespassed so long upon your time, and have written so much more than I intended when I sat down to endeavour to answer your correspondent's query, that I must conclude with my best wishes for the increased circulation of your valuable Journal, and beg to subscribe myself, Sir,
Yours very faithfully,
Rev. Sir,—In your number of July last, I find this query,
What is to be done with refractory girls ?”-So far as this refers to the punishment of girls in Sunday schools, may I be allowed to suggest expulsion as the best mode of treating old offenders. Tasks, as your correspondent observes, serve but to disgust them with their books, and there are few stubborn natures that will give way to quiet reasoning. Expulsion, I have generally found, to be followed by submission, and a request to be allowed to return. In one particular case which has come under my notice, in fact, which occurred in my own school, the offender, who had been from her earliest years a notoriously saucy, careless, and independent child, was at length, for open disobedience of orders,
quietly and privately expelled. Before ten days had elapsed, she had humbly begged pardon, and by promise of future better conduct obtained readmission. Her promise has been faithfully kept ever since; she has not given the slightest cause for correction or even reproof in the two years which have passed, and has become both amiable and cheerful in disposition. At the same time, let it be remembered, that readmission should only be granted as a great favour both to parents and child. Hoping that these observations may prove of some small use,
I am, Rev. Sir, your obedient servant, Oct. 22nd, 1845.
A Sunday School TEACHER.
SUGGESTIONS ON THE TEACHING OF GEOGRAPHY.
[FROM A PAPER BY THE REV. A. HUME, LL.D., READ AT ONE OF
THE EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS OF THE MASTERS OF THE COL. LEGIATE SCHOOLS, LIVERPOOL, AND PRIVATELY PRINTED FOR DISTRIBUTION AMONG TEACHERS.]
Almost any one who has been engaged in teaching geogra- Introduction. phy, or almost any one who has ever learned it, can bear testimony to the fact, that it is taught in very different ways by different individuals.
it is merely a dry catalogue of names, localities, and facts, totally unconnected, in most instances, either with themselves, or with anything else which the mind can grasp; while with another, the facts, the names, and the positions are so interwoven mutually, or with something extraneous, that they always rise in the mind in associated groups. In the former case, the study of the subject is heartless and forbidding, and we can make due allowance for the dislike that many entertain for it; in the latter it may be, and indeed often is, as fascinating to the youthful mind as Robinson Crusoe or the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. The suggestions which I have the pleasure of submitting at present, assume that these results are not matters of mere accident, but the unavoidable consequences of a certain line of proceeding; and they tend to show how impressions, both permanent and pleasing, may be made in every case. It is impossible to examine the subject to its full extent, in a brief sketch like the present; indeed, the original intention was only to offer a few suggestions respecting the best method of teaching numbers in geography; I shall, however, have a word to say on each of the three subjects of topography, numbers, and maps.
Of the many books which have been written on common or Too uniform
in plan. descriptive geography, all the larger treatises speak of the various countries of the world as if they were of equal, or of nearly equal, importance. They give as minute an account of the United States, or of Persia, or of Egypt, as they do of Wales or of Scotland, provided their materials will allow them to do so; and in one sense this is right. Works of reference should treat as freely as possible on each of their