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believe boys and girls of 13 can master, in the course of a few easy oral lessons, what the lifetime of Newton, of Cuvier, of La Place, of Copernicus, of Prescott, and of other ripe scholars and thinkers was not sufficient for. In our mad haste to know the most of everything in the least possible time, we learn nothing well. While I admire the principle of oral instruction, and deem the introduction of what is called object teaching a great and desirable improvement, I would caution all against the extreme notion that this is the grand highway to knowledge, and that hereafter pupils have nothing to do but sit in luxurious coaches, while they are carried with railroad speed to the very sum. mit of the bill of schace.
Pestalozzi says: “The first object in education must be to teach the child to observe with accuracy; the second to express with correctness the result of his observations."
Both these objects require much long continued and patient labor for their attainment. No new systems of education will change in the least natural capacity, nor can we yet disprove the maxim, “there is no excellence without labor.” Mind is about what it has been for centuries past. Methods have changed, but none have yet done away with the good gospel order of things “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” I do not expect to live to see the time when mental perfection shall be the work of a day, or when mental activity shall no longer bear any relation to mental vigor. To accomplish anything one must labor. He may not tread the same road his fathers traversed, but his movements as well as theirs must be step by step. The hill of science has not been graded down, nor has the skill of man devised any easier route to its summit. The paths are more numerous and they are opened to more students, but each one who would reach the summit must toil as others have done before him. He who listens to pretty stories glibly told, or swallows crude ideas, sugar coated that they may tickle the palate, and fancies that thus he is to be “borne on flowery beds of ease" to the end of his intellectual journey, will find himself still and forever at the foot of the hill. He must gird himself to the task before him. He may enjoy pleasant scenes, snuff sweet odors, taste luscious fruits, as he goes on, but he must himself go on if he would go up. That teacher who would persuade himself or his pupils that he can carry them around obstacles by a little object lesson detour, is a dangerous extremist. No part of the teacher's work requires so much hard study as that of preparation for giving a correct object lesson ; such a lesson as shall impress truth upon the mind of the child in such a manner as to awaken his curiosity, to fire him with zeal in its pursuit, and to cultivate all his pow. ers, by presenting and enforcing the necessity of their exercise. An object lesson should be so presented as not to satisfy the mind, but to awaken in it new thought, and thus lead it to more earnest seeking after truth. It should never diminish the labor of the student, but should demand greater labor, and secure the supply of its demands through the interest awakened in the subject by its careful and proper presentation. Object lessons will not diminish the labors of the teacher, but will increase his labors, and those who expect an easier task because of the introduction of this principle into our system of ed. ucation, may as well cease to aspire to the work of the teacher at once. I regard this method of instruction as valuable when properly viewed, and suitably prepared for, but as a very dangerous experiment in the hands of the unqualified, who attempt “ to daub with untempered mortar.” What shall be done? Shall it be thrown aside because effort must be made to prepare for it ? No true teacher will for a moment listen to such a suggestion. Some will tire in the race and fall out. Some will prate noisily bout some few qual. ities of objects, very improperly understood, and dream of success, but they will after a while awake to find it but a dream. Accept this improvement with a full purpose to make it an improvement. To accomplish this result you must spare no pains, shrink at no toil, yield to no discouragements, but press heartily and with single eye onward in the work you are determined to honor. In spite of the truth set forth by Dr. Holland, in his letter to Thomas Arnold Jones, labor to make “ the larger view of teaching and of education,” the prevalent view. Read what Dr. Holland says:
“It is astonishing how almost universally it is the opinion that education consists in the cramming into a child's mind the contents of a pile of text books. I do not think that I exaggerate at all when I say that three quarters of the teachers of American youth practically consider fitness for teaching to consist in the ability to conduct recitations from the usual text books, and that three quarters of the people who have children to be educated regard education as consisting entirely in acquiring the ability to answer such questions as these teachers may propose from the text books in their hands. The larger view of teaching and of education is not the prevalent view. Teaching is con. ducted often by men who are not competent to do anything else. They take up teaching as a preparation for other work. A man teaches as a preparation for preaching—as a stepping stone to something better--as a means of earning money to enable him to learn enough to do some other work. “Fitness for teaching seems to come a long time before fitness for anything else comes, and is certainly not regarded as indicating a very high degree of intellectual advancement.”
Mistaken views of a child's capacity lead to other extremes in the manner of imparting instruction. Some expect too much of children, others give them very little credit for any intellect. Some help too little, others too much. Some give strong meat to babes, others dilute very much the milk they should have. In the former case, the digestive organs are destroyed by having too much to do; in the latter, they are worn out in the vain chase after something they may do. While I have no love for, or desire to see, infant prodigies, incessant, small, baby talk disgusts me. Those, who under the fancied necessity of coming down to the capacity of children, use the silliest twaddle, are as much to be pitied for their folly, as the man who, in addressing an infant class, asked them for “an epitome of a discourse" they had beard, and then fearing that the word “ epitome” might not be thoroughly understood by them, politely told them, that it was “synonymous with synopsis."
Teachers should address children as if they had minds, but should remember, that they are children, whose minds as yet have little grasp. They should never use words that a child cannot understand, but may use words that a child does not understand, if still within the reach of his comprehension.
But leaving manner of instruction, let me glance at extremes in the matter taught. In this country everybody calculates. Calculation is with too many the end and aim of all education. You will find in the primary room calculi, or small stones; a little farther on, the numeral frame and child's arithmetic; yet farther along, the slate and “ciphering book," day books, journals and ledgers, algebras, geometries, and ending as you begin, with calculus the educated man becomes a calculating animal. This is well enough if you would make of a man an Arabic character or dollar mark. This I do not understand to be the design of our Creator, though, perhaps, some “cute Yankee" may think it would be a great improvement upon the original. This will serve as a sample of a class of extremists I would cordemn, viz: hobby-riders. Whatever the name of their steed, they are narrow minded extremists.
Here I may be met by the eminently practical man, who would teach nothing but that which may be immediately and directly, used—the man of the Gradgrind stamp, who would neither paper walls nor carpet rooms, lest contrary to fact-flowers should be trodden under foot of men in sitting-rooms or parlors, or horses be found walking up and down the sides of rooms, or trees and houses be found standing there without support—the man made up of dry facts, hard, angular and repulsive.
God has given to all pupils fancy, imagination and curiosity. These are efficient helps in the pursuit of knowledge. They demand cultivation, or, it may be, restraint, but they should never be smothered under a dry load of practicalness. Again, school hours are not sufficiently long to warrant the attempt to crowd the mind of the pupil with all the facts proper to be learned. It is better to give the more important or leading elementary facts, and so to awaken thought and excite curiosity, as to secure the acquisition of new facts after school days have ceased. Our text-books contain many things that are better forgotten than remembered. All contain much more than it is worth the while of any pupil to memorize. The least important often absorb the time that should be given to the more valuable. Avoid extremes here, for there is as much danger in discarding the book entirely, as in adhering to its every letter. The jewels must be selected from the mass—the things worth remembering selected—the things worth forgetting cast aside.
The road traveled repeatedly, becomes uninteresting to any one who has not his eyes and ears open. Some plod on in the same dull and prosy manner, year after year, with no new illustrations, repeating word for word the textbook used: others, forgetting the past, rush after novelties, till they leave entirely the path they should have trod, until they are lost in a wilderness, boundless, monotonous, and uninteresting. While it is absolutely necessary to preserve the same road, in the main, the teacher who would avoid extremes will study out new attractions by the way, so that the same may appear to himself and his pupils a new way. It was my good fortune to listen to a course of lectures upon natural science, by a gentleman who had occupied the same place for more than forty years. He kept his heart young during this long period. His mind was ever fresh and lively. By close study, he kept pace with the advances made in each department of natural science, and came to successive repetitions of his annual course of lectures, with increased zest and interest. Long experience and practice had made his manipulations perfect, and I rejoiced often, as I heard him, that I was a member of his fiftieth rather than of his first class.
The field of natural science is perhaps better adapted than any other to the growth of the teacher, but there is no necessity for the tiller of any field becoming dwarfed and dried. Facilities for new illustrations multiply on every hand. The true teacher will seek for, appropriate and digest such food as he may find after diligent search.
Variety of illustration is demanded by different habits of thought, and he who uses no others than those furnished by the text book he adopts will fail to reach a large class of his pupils. Different minds reach the same result by different roads. Physicians adapt their medicines to the constitutional habits or the present physical condition of their patients. Quacks have one dose for every ailment, and each dose is pronounced a specific for every disease to which flesh falls heir.
In the discipline of the school, as well as in its instruction, there are extremes to be avoided. The relation of the teacher to his pupils should be neither that of an overbearing task master or overseer, nor yet of an eaves-dropper at watch. Nor should be allow his pupils the license so freely used by those who would only “be let alone.” He must neither be cruel nor lax in discipline. Consistent firmness, tempered with kindness, will be his rule.
“A little knowledge of human nature is essential to the education of the morals, and to the deportment of the pupils. For the want of it, many a child has had his spirit chafed, his temper soured, and injury done to his disposition, which no knowledge acquired could compensate or atone for. It is one thing to govern a scholar, and quite another thing to lead the scholar to govern himself. It is one thing to subdue a child to right action by the rule, and another thing, by a little address, to lead him to choose that right action. The former educates his bad passions, making him impatient and malicious ; the latter educates his better feelings in all that is lovely and of good report. The latter alone is education, in its only appropriate sense.”
In all that pertains to the discipline of the school room, the order of good
sense is, first what is right, then what is useful, then what is proper, and, last of all, what is expedient. Whatever is right cannot but be useful and proper. Whenever but one course of action in any given case is right, that course is also expedient, and it is the only expedient course. When a choice may be made between several courses of conduct, either of which is absolutely right, then the most expedient may be the best. The philosophy that makes expediency the basis of right, and makes all virtuous action spring from policy, must inevitably fail to make men better. Those who have tried it have felt its fallacy. In all the work of a school room, the teacher of common sense will abide strictly by the right. From several right courses, he will select such as in general will best accomplish the end sought; from these he will choose such as are best adapted to the class of cases immediately before him, and between the proper courses he will decide upon that which will, in the particular case, most speedily produce the desired result.
The relation of the teacher to his patrons bears directly upon his success in the discipline of the school. He must be neither an outcast nor a meddler. He will neither assume nor presume. He will not show concert nor undue familiarity. He will be neither pedantic nor uncouth. In all his intercourse with men he must be above others without impressing them with a sense of his superi. ority. “He may have more learning, but he certainly has less manners," was a remark I overheard a short time since, as I passed some workmen who were discussing the relative merits of two teachers.
The teacher should be a citizen in sympathy with those about him and conforming to the circumstances surrounding him. I cannot express, so well as is done by Dr. Holland, what I would say upon this point. In his letters to Thomas Arnold Jones, from which I have before quoted, I find the following excellent advice :
"I wish to impress upon you the great truth that your excellence and suc. cess as a teacher depend entirely upon the style and strength of your manhood. The ability to maintain order in the school, and to conduct recitations, with measurable intelligence, is not extraordinary. It is possessed by a large number of people, but that higher power to which I have attempted to direct your attention is extraordinary. The teachers are not many who possess it, or who intelligently aim to win it. It is not a garment to be taken off like a coat, but it is the result of the loving contact of a generous nature with those great and beautiful realities of which the text books only present the dry definitions. The greatest naturalist of this country—perhaps the greatest of any country, is a teacher whose equal it would be hard to find among nations of teachers; and this is true, not because he knows so much, but because he is so much. No young mind can come within the reach of his voice and influence without being touched by his sublime enthusiasm. No pupil ever speaks of him, save with brightened or moistened eyes. I have heard women pronounce the name in many places, scattered hetween Maine and the Mississippi, and always in