Page images

itself is nothing else but the faculty to receive these impressions; it is nothing else but the awakening of the now perfect physical germs, which are grasping at their self-evolution with all their power and impulses; it is nothing else but the awakening of the perfect animal, that now struggles to become a man, and is destined to be a man. All instruction, then, can be nothing else but the art of lending a helping hand to Nature in this, her grasping at her own development; and this art consists mainly in the proportionality and harmony of the impressions to be imprinted on the child's mind, to the corresponding degree of development of his mental faculties. There must of necessity be a certain order in which these impressions are to succeed each other; and their succession should keep pace with the growth of the faculties to be developed. The principal means to avoid confusion, discontinuity, and superficialness in training, consists in the pains taken to render the first impressions of the most essential objects of our knowledge from the very beginning, as definite, correct and comprehensive as possible to the child's perception. Wherever, in the vast domain of ever-producing Nature any object remains imperfectly formed in the germ, there she has lost her power of bringing it to perfection by maturation. Anything which is not perfect in its germ, will be crippled in its growth, in the exterior development of its parts; and this holds as true regarding the productions of the mind, as the productions of your garden-bed; it is as true regarding the results of each single conception, as the well defined condition of a full-grown head of cabbage.

“ It is evident that conceptions must be made clear to the child through instruction, before he can be expected to understand the result of chese conceptions, the distinct idea, or rather its verbal representation. To render an idea distinct, the arrangement of the explanations must be adapted to the notice of the object of which the idea is to be given. This arrangement again consists in the combination of all the means by which children are brought to express their thoughts on the nature and attributes of things in well-chosen terms. In this manner, and in no other may a child be led to get an idea of the essence of an object in its whole extent, and be enabled to give a concise definition of it. All definitions, i.e., all verbal representations of an object, contain essential truths for the child only so far as his consciousness goes of having vivid conceptions of the nature of that object. Where there is an absence in the child's mind of the most definite clearness regarding the conceptions of an object defined to him, then he will merely learn to play with words, deceiving himself, blindly believing in tones whose sound can give him no other idea or cause another thought than that a noise had just been made. Mushrooms will readily grow in rainy

weather on any dung-hill, and in the same manner definitions without representations of the corresponding objects to the perceptive faculties will as readily beget a sort of mushroom sageness which, however, is doomed to die very soon in the light of the sun, and which must acknowledge the clear sky to be poison for its existence.”



You have seen an apple with one cheek plump and rosy-overfulland the other so small that bud-end and stern may be taken at a mouthful. I have been viewing my subject, and it looks very like that apple. For it has two sides greatly disproportionate. Shall we venture to try our tooth in the small side, and say from experience, what a teacher's studies are ?

A study to make both ends meet, is apparent in the apple. I wouldn't wonder if it were sometimes found in our private cogitations. But it isn't an agrçeable study.

I know of nothing more dispiriting than an earnest attempt to solve the problem of the two unknown quantities-how much must be spent on self to insure respectability in the face of society-and how much may be spent on self, unselfishly. · Another depressing subject of study arises from the ever-recurring question—what shall be done with them? With the thoughtless one, who progresses without meaning the heedless one who listens without hearing—the dull one who strives without succeeding—the hardened one who lies without blushing? No problem of the lights ever wearied the student's brain as do these the teacher's heart. These are the questions that drive us into the brown studies--not always dry, as mem. ories of dampened pillows might testify.

More pleasing topics of thought are those concerning the intellectual development of our pupils, methods of instruction in various branches, means of adding interest and vigor to daily recitations, plans concerning any and all the multitudinous duties and exercises of the schoolroom.

Our thoughts concerning these things are often so desultory as hardly to deserve the name of study; and when we speak of them as such, we are perhaps getting our teeth into the

full side of the appethe teacher's studies as they might, couid, would or should be. They might, under favorable circumstances, be much; they could, under all circumstances, be something; they would be, if we were determined and per

severing in regard to them; they should be, in every case, at least sufficient to keep our minds and souls from the damp over-growth of stagnation.

The question arises, What should be the nature and order of these studies? It seems to me that the studies which we daily attempt to teach should first claim our attention. In these we should be thoroughly grounded before assuming our positions in the school-room, and afterward, preparatory to class recitations, we should extend our investigations to details, illustrations, deeper search into principlesthoroughly imbuing ourselves with the knowledge, and the zeal for knowledge, which we desire our pupils to acquire. This takes time, more or less, from every teacher, and it should be given, not grudgingly, but cheerfully.

Next in order I would place the reading and re-reading-study, if I may call anything so restful study-of our best literature. We are not able to command all the volumes we would like from time to time to refresh ourselves with, but we can gather about us a few plaincovered, precious-freighted books, that shall prove to us, if we are faithful, storehouses of wisdom. And, through the open doors of public libraries, or the courtesies of friends, we can generally succeed in keeping a fresh volume within our reach, for our leisure momeats.

If we have further time and energy, no doubt our minds will be strengthened and our happiness increased by the regular pursuit of some branch of study remote from our immediate duties.

Individual taste and talent must direct in this. One, in the wisdombearing tomes of history may find his food and discipline, while another with the intricacies of language whets his intellectual appetites. A third, in the perplexing maze of metaphysics will delight to wander; others, from nature take their lessons, and hie them to the rocks and birds and trees for company. And from these friends they may be sure of learning nothing bad.

I wish we all had the courage and strength needed for such work. We rouse ourselves at times, and, rubbing with our flints, strike out some little sparks, that fall again to darkness, or, fire some brushwood pile to light our thoughts of an evening, while the noble few press on untiringly by the light of their own steadfastness, and grow to be the Aschams and the Arnolds of their time.

A CHILD often has thoughts which it knows not how to express. The mother knowing this, teaches him. So the soul often has hidden experiences which it knows not how to speak, and the Lord has placed before us the scripture language, wherein each may speak the words of Eternal Life.



Life is dual. It has its inner being and its outward embodiment; an inner essence and an outward manifestation. The tree throws out its banner of leaves and blossoms and crowns itself with the glory of its fruitage, because there dwells within its tissues a life, energy which joins earth, and is in its sustenance and growth. Let the finger of Omnipotence but touch this hidden life-current and the proudest monarch of the forest bows his head and passes away. The earth also has its indwelling force, which has lified up the continents and scooped out the ocean's bed. The volcano and the earthquake are but its outward manifestation. Nature itself is but an effect the outward form of that Infinite one who is its cause and life.

This principle of life duality is eminently an attribute of man. Not only has he two natures, a physical body and indwelling regal soul, but each has its inner life and its outer life. Within the cells and tissues of the body there dwells a secret alchemist and builder, controlling ali its vital processes and building in wondrous perfection. So the soul has dual existence. Its inner capability is one of thinking, feeling, wil. ling and enjoying; its outer manifestation is one of influence and achievement.

These two existences are distirguished in their moral aspect by the térms character and conduci. Character is the indwelling principle of the moral life-conduct, the cause of that life in its outward, visible flow. Character is the fountain; conduct the outflowing stream.

But, this is not all. Character is not mere the principle of life; it is als, its result-its creation. The human soul is not a mere canvass on which lite throws her images of thought, of fancy and desire, only to vanish to give place to their succeeding shadows. Every idea, every emotion, every aspiration, every impulse arising in the soul leaves its impress and becomes a part of it.

The teacher's real influence flows from his inner life; indwelling character is the source of his power and success.

Back of all he says and does, is the man himself; a genuine, personal existence. It is this inner being that is so mighty in influence, so irresistible in action. Our ability to succeed, depends not so much upon what we know or can do, as upon what we really are -the nature of our moral and intellectual organization. Feebleness of character must impress itself upon our designs; while the individual who is morally and intellectually strong, will succeed in the execution of his purposes. What the man is, tells infinitely more than what he assumes to

be. His inner being is wrapped up in no inscrutable mystery. His every thought, feeling and impulse, has its out-flowing charnel-its outward sign and expression.

This doctrine also shows that moral character in the teacher, is the vital condition in all systems of moral trairing. Noble sentiments dwelling regally in the life, are self-articulate, and hence the most potent moral instruction of the teacher muss emanate from his inner being. We wear no veil over our souls, in the presence of children. As the electrometer trembles at the presence of the feeblest electric cement, so their hearts are reponsive to our most secret moods, feelings and impulses.

I have somewhere read, that Chinese florists change the hues of flowers, by drawing a silken thread of the desired color, throu, h the seed or bulb of the infant plant, thus creating a bias in its life princi. ple, to elect and appropriate those elements necessary to produce the desired tinge. Whatever may be true in the cultivation of flowers, more than a silken thread, even the current of the teacher's character, runs through all his instruction, imparting to the moral life of his pupils, its own bias and color, and whether the immortal plants committed to his care, shall blossom with the radiance of a life of honor and truth, depends vastly more upon what he is, than upon his outward conscious efforts. The teacher must always exhibit before his pupils a noble and attractive every-day bearing, a course of goodness, of sincerity, of true refinement. And these are bred in years, not in moments. Sir Philip Sidney was the pattern to all England, of a perfect gentleman; but he was the hero, who, on the field of Zutphen, pushed the cup of cold water from his own fevered, parching lips, and held it out to the dying soldier by his side.

Whatever, fellow-teachers, may be the means by which our inner life shines out through its outward environment, of this we may be assured, our inner character will reveal itself, in spite of all our shams and coverings. If angels inhabit our inner sanctuary, their bright forms will be seen at the open doors, and their music will be heard from the towers; but if imps and demons of passion possess the heart, they too will show themselves at the windows, and their discords will burden the outer air.

POWER OF THE VOICE.—In the presence of duty, we are liable to speak harshly to children. This, instead of allaying the passions of the child, serves directly to increase them. Every fretful expression awakens the same spirit which produced it. So does a pleasant voice call up agreeable feelings. Whatever disposition, therefore, we would encourage in a child, the same we should manifest in the tone in which we address it.

« PreviousContinue »