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THOUGHTS FOR PARENTS AND
WHAT AN INSTRUCTOR OUGHT TO BE.
What an immense amount of good might teachers become the happy instruments of effecting, were they to give themselves to their work with the earnestness and devotedness recommended in the “ Address to Teachers," which appeared in the “Teacher's Visitor." Most refreshing it is to turn to the expression of such sentiments -to find there are those who regard the training of immortal minds as a high, an honourable, and a delightful employment; and who, instead of conceiving that an instructor of the young has little to do beyond hearing a lesson, and writing a copy, view him as the moral labourer who is to turn up the unbroken ground; to aid in the developement of the wondrous faculties with which man is endowed ; to guide the inexperienced, unformed mind, and to be instrumental in imparting, not only the knowledge which is “ profitable for the life that now is,” but also that pure and heavenly wisdom which is to fit us for our home above. Cold indeed must be that heart, which can watch unmoved the progressive improvement of the human faculties, as day after day he sees them expand under the influence of education, himself the instrument employed to discipline the young minds around him—to train them up to usefulness and virtue.
There is no office which involves more responsibility, and which requires more varied qualifications, than that of a teacher of the young; none for which a decided bent—not to say a genius—is more requisite ; and yet how many are there, who undertake the charge of the education of youth, without any previous preparation for the important work. The high and arduous duties of an instructor are unhesitatingly assumed. With all the fearlessness of ignorance, the individual enters on his office, utterly unconscious that any particular skill is requisite; without any decided intention of devoting his energies to the welfare of his pupils; sometimes without posesssing a single disposition of mind suitable to an instructor. This may seem harsh, and we would not desire to speak harshly. We cannot, however, close our eyes to the fact, that it is too true. Those of whom we make mention may be amiable and excellent. What we contend for is, that they are wholly incompetent for the occupation they have undertaken, unqualified persons for the work of educating the young; and fervently ought we to hope that the time may come, when our dear children, high and low, rich and poor, will be placed in abler hands, and governed by warmer hearts. Other qualities are needed beside talent. There should, doubtless, be an ability to teach, for it is impossible clearly and simply to explain to others any thing with which we are ourselves unacquainted. There must also be an aptness to teach, a peculiar tact in the way of training the youthful intellect -the happy faculty of imparting to others what we know ourselves: but should there not likewise be gentleness, meekness, sympathy, and love? Yes, if our aim be, as it ought to be, not the improvement of the understanding only, but of the heart also, then must there be that intimate and kindly intercourse between the teacher and the taught, without which the confidence of the young cannot be obtained—a thorough knowledge of their real character and disposition cannot possibly be acquired. There must be that sincere, and earnest, and benevolent manner, which wins and subdues the youthful heart, and binds it with the golden cord of love--that enthusiastic affection for children which can not only bend to all that pleases and interests them, but which can take delight in doing so. The young must find in their instructor one of their dearest friends-a friend whom they can love as well as respect--a friend whose presence is a source of joy-whose society imparts a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. And can this be accomplished, we are asked, and a proper spirit of subordination still be maintained? We answer, Yes; and we answer confidently, because we speak from experience both among the high and the low. Let the instructor remember the position which he occupies. The young will not be the first to forget the observance of that respect which is due to the individual under whose training they are placed, and
whom it is their duty to obey. Oh! let not the instructors of youth make such a mistake as to imagine that their authority cannot be maintained by other means than a chilling reserve, a repulsive harshness, and a spirit of incessant fault-finding. These may command the cold obedience of fear; they will never procure for us the cheerful, willing obedience of love. Whatever may be in other respects the talents of the teacher, if he cannot obtain the confidence and affection of his charge, he is incompetent to act as their instructor. We may venture to assert, that if he possessed every other qualification, and failed in attaining that which we may rest assured is a vital one-namely, a cordial sympathy between himself and his pupils—the failure must operate extensively and injuriously both as regards mind and
If he cannot secure an efficient hold on the ardent feelings of the youthful heart, he is useless as a moral governor of the young. Instructors of youth! you who have devoted yourselves to the responsible but happy employment of cultivating minds, act only in a spirit of love, and you shall reap a rich reward. The youthful objects of your solicitude will not fail to love you in return, the sweet waters of affection shall gush forth clear, bright, and sparkling from the fountain of the young child's heart, to cheer and refresh you in your arduous and important duties. And fear not even when called on to rebuke and condemn. Your calm, temperate, and loving reproof, will never alienate, in the smallest degree, the affections of your charge; though they may suffer from your decisions, they will be ready to acknowledge the pain you inflict to be of necessity and not of choice; and you will soon perceive that those are the effectual admonitions which fall from the lips of a tender and familiar friend. Be firm as you please in measures; but, as you value that influence which you may and ought to obtain, let your manner and language be gentle, familiar, and kind. In short, love your children, and they will soon love you. You must not only appear to feel, but you must in reality feel a deep concern for their happiness; you must take a strong interest in their pursuits and enjoyments; you must feel the warmest pleasure in their society; under all circumstances you must be their friend. There must be the soft language of entreaty, rather than the stern voice of authority-the mild persuasive tone, and the gentle, lov. ing words issuing from a heart overflowing with affection for the young and oftentimes erring being who is placed under the control of a superior and more matured mind. And underneath this gentleness and love, remember there must be authority the most unlimited, the calm, decided, unbending determination to enforce that obedience which the well-qualified instructor will indeed ordinarily cause to be a willing obedience, but which must be obtained if we would hope either for the present or the future well-being of the child.
The whole language of the Bible is, “Obey;" and, therefore, that system of education which is not founded on obedience cannot but be a very defective one. There must be firmness the most unwavering, truth the most perfect, justice the most exact, vigilance the most unceasing, patience the most unwearied, rising far above the troubled waters of irritation, and only seeing in the waywardness and misapprehensions of childhood fresh cause for the exercise of the most tender forbearance.
And here we pause. More might be added, far more. Much more than all this is requisite in those to whom we intrust the moral, religious, and intellectual training of the young. And who is sufficient for these things? Does not the conscientious teacher, how skilful and talented soever he may be, fear and tremble when he reflects on the duties he has to perform? When he remembers how much, humanly speaking, depends on his teaching and training—when he recollects the power he
possesses in the formation of character, second only, we are persuaded, to that of parents themselves—would he not be cast down under the weight of responsibility which he incurs before God and man, were he not to remember there is One who has said, “My grace is sufficient for thee”? Our great Example commanded with authority, and yet was meek and lowly, patient and forgiving. He has promised to them that seek it, his own spirit of gentleness, firmness, humility, and love; and if God be for us, who or what can be against us?
MORNING AND EVENING PRAYER FOR
MORNING. ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, thou hast made us thy creatures by thy power, and dost govern all things by thy wisdom. Thou art the author of all our blessings, by day and by night. We give thanks to thee that thou hast kept us safe through the past week, and that thus far we are spared to see another holy Sabbath. Thy beloved Son has said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not;" we therefore humbly pray that thou wouldest condescend to be present with us at this time, and to regard with thy special favour this Sunday-school. Do thou bless our labours with increase. May the instruction imparted in this place from time to time, be based upon the Gospel of thy dear Son; and may the young to whom it is imparted be not only readers and hearers of thy word, but doers. May they be enlightened by thy word, and strengthened by thy Spirit, that being trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, established in the true faith, and rooted and built up in Christ, they may walk in the knowledge and obedience of thy commandments, and thus become not forgetful hearers of thy word, but doers. May they search the Scriptures daily. May they all become wise unto salvation. May each from this day cry unto thee, “My Father, thou art the guide of my youth.” May they all be diligent and attentive, and learn to do thy will on earth, that they may become the disciples of the Lord Jesus; so that when this life is ended, and the body of each is consigned to its long home, the soul of each may wing its way to the mansions of never-ending bliss, and be for ever with thee, its God.
O heavenly Father, we also pray thee to look upon us thy unworthy servants, who instruct these children. Grant, that in teaching others we may be taught of thee. May our own vineyards flourish, whilst we cultivate those of others. May we drink at that stream to which we are privileged to direct the "lambs” of thy flock; and when our work on earth is ended, and we are called to stand