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He who practices nothing but gymnastics, is liable to run into barbarous and violent ways, and produces towards himself that slavish state of feeling which does its duty only out of fear.
Where mental training is wanting, the position of man is infinitely low; he becomes like a beast. PLATO.
Childhood and youth ought to be the period of cheerfulness, of bodily exercises, of enjoyment and pleasure.
Do not destroy this happiness, ye otherwise tender parents, by too early employing them in the business and duties of a subsequent age, to which they may never attain. BASEDOW.
Happiness of the human race by means of education. Man has, corresponding to his threefold home-the mother's womb, earth, and eternity-a threefold life; vegetative, animal, and spiritual. All men are in need of instruction; by which the image of God is restored within them.
Every man is a world in little-a microcosm.
All instruction will meet with easy success, in proportion as its method is according to nature.
Instruction should begin in early youth, and should proceed gradually, according to the development of the capacities. It should begin, not as is common, with languages, but with things.
Kind and loving parents and teachers, cheerful school-rooms, playgrounds, and a stimulating and natural method of instruction, must all be united, in order to make learning pleasant. COMENIUS.
Mother's milk is the best nourishment for the child, both food and drink; for it nourishes it well.
Mother's milk is best and healthiest for the child, because it is accustomed to it from birth upwards.
Children who have low nurses turn out like them, as experience shows. It is therefore unkind and unnatural for a mother not to nurse her child, for God gave her her breasts and her milk for that purpose; unless she is unable to do it. Need breaks iron, says the proverb.
It was a thing very well imagined and enacted by the ancients, that they caused all persons to have and practice some useful and honorable occupation, so that they might not fall into habits of drunkenness, vice, gormandizing, guzzling, and gaming.
Therefore these two exercises please me best of all, namely, music, and knightly exercises, including fencing, wrestling, &c., of which the first drives care and melancholy thoughts away from the heart, and the second gives handsome and symmetrical proportions to the body, and keeps it in good health by exercise.
Poor people's children, who have only bread and water to eat, are handsomer and more perfect and strong in body, than those of the rich, who have every day their full of all manner of delicacies to eat and drink, and yet are meagre, bony and yellow. LUTHER.
If you follow nature, the education you give will succeed without giving you trouble and perplexity; especially if you do not insist upon acquirements precocious or over-extensive.
Great care must be taken of the body.
Moderate exercise is very strengthening; and therefore ought nurses— who should be selected with care--to be diligent in carrying children about in fresh air, to the temples, and to visit their relations.
The dispositions of children, instead of being made touchy, irritable or froward by indulgence, or cowardly and slavish by excessive harshness, should be made as open and cheerful as possible, and they should be taught to use either hand alike.
Beginning with the third year, when the intelligence and the power of speech awake, the child should be occupied with plays appropriate to its age. From these plays a judgment may be formed of the child's adaptedness to a future calling.
Changes of toys should not be made too rapidly, for fear of developing instability of character.
From the third to the sixth year, suitable stories should be told the child; and these should be such as to furnish him with ideas of God and of virtue.
Parents and teachers must seek occasion of securing and maintaining influence over children by means of personal respect.
Bodily punishment is only admissible where children or pupils violate the respect due to age, or a law of education.
On the other hand, the sense of shame and of honor should early be awakened.
Parents should be more anxious to instill into their children a deepseated youthful modesty, than to leave them a pile of gold: and therefore they should carefully keep from the sight of the young all that can injure their modesty or morals.
For where the old are immodest, the shamelessness of the young is increased. PLATO. To the mother belongs the bodily nourishment and care of children; to the father, their instruction and education.
The distinction of sexes must early be observed.
Milk is the most natural and therefore the best food for children. Wine injures them by heating them and causing sickness.
Even children at the breast should be accustomed to suitable exercise. Children should early be accustomed to heat and cold, to confirm their health; and all habits should be taught from as early an age as possible. Children should not be obliged to do actual labor, nor to be instructed, before the fifth year, for fear of stunting them.
The loud crying of children-unless it is caused by sickness-is their first gymnastic exercise.
Their plays should be in the similitude of what they are afterwards to practice in earnest. ARISTOTLE.
Since children are always possessed of great liveliness and susceptibility, since their powers of observation grow keener and stronger as their consciousness develops, and their impulses to activity are stronger in proportion as their character is nobler, therefore proportionately greater care should be taken to preserve them from immoral influences, to protect and direct the growth of the mind, and to accustom them to proper modes of speech.
Parents and teachers should show to their children and pupils a truly virtuous example; and punishments should be proportioned to faults, and should be so administered as to produce improvement.
Although the virtues of good nature, mildness and placability are high ones, still they must have their limits; and must not interfere with the strictness necessary to maintain the laws.
Man must early be trained to the conviction that the gods are the directors of all things, and that they see the inmost thoughts of men.
It is only by this means that men will be preserved from foolish presumption and from wickedness, as Thaies says: That men must live in the consciousness that all around them is filled with the gods. This will keep them more chaste than if they were in the holiest of temples.
From religion, which is a holy fear of the gods, proceed the virtues of modesty, and filial piety.
The peculiar traits of each character should be developed; it should not be attempted to impress a foreign mark upon them; just actors are wont to select not the best parts, but those most suitable to them.
It should not be claimed that there is no art or science of training up to virtue. Remember how absurd it would be to believe that even the most trifling employment has its rules and methods, and at the same time that the highest of all departments of human effort-virtue-can be mastered without instruction and practice.
The education of children should begin at their birth. Bathing children and letting them crawl about are to be recommended. We came into the world entirely ignorant, and with incapable bodies, but with the capacity to learn.
Man learns incredibly much in the first years of his life, by mere experience, without any instruction at all.
Impressions on the senses supply the first materials of knowledge. Therefore it will be well to present these impressions in a proper order. Especially should the results of seeing be compared with those of feeling.
By motion they learn the idea of space, so that they no longer grasp after distant objects.
Children speak at first a universal natural language, not articulated, but accented and intelligible.
Nurses understand this language better than others, and talk to the children in it.
What words are used in it are indifferent; it is only the accent which is important.
It is assisted also by the children's gestures and the rapid play of their features.
Crying is their expression for hunger, heat, cold, &c.
Their grown up guardians endeavor to understand this crying and to stop it; but often misunderstand it, and try to stop it by flattery or blows. The first crying of children is a request.
If this is not attended to, they proceed to commanding.
They begin by helping themselves, and end by causing themselves to be waited on.
All the bad conduct of children arises from weakness.
If they are made strong, they will be good.
One who can do all things, will ever do anything evil.
Before we come to our understandings, there is no morality in our actions; although we sometimes see manifestations of it in the susceptibilities of children to the actions of others.
The tendencies of children to destructiveness are not the result of wickedness, but of vivid impulses to activity.
Children should be helped when it is necessary; but no notice should be taken of their mere notions; and they should be made to help themselves as much as possible.
Causeless crying will be best cured by taking no notice of it. For even children dislike to exert themselves for nothing.
Crying can be soothed by drawing the child's attention to some striking object, without letting it know that you are paying it any special attention.
Costly playthings are superfluous. Cheap and simple ones are precisely as good.
Nurses can entertain children very much by telling them stories. Some few easily pronounced words should be often pronounced to the child, names of things which should be shown to them at the same time. ROUSSEAU.
(To be continued.)
II. LETTERS TO A YOUNG TEACHER.
BY GIDEON F. THAYER,
Late Principal of Chauncy-Hall School, Boston.
WHETHER the absurd method of teaching Geography, which obtained in the early part of the present century, is now practised to any considerable extent, or not, in our country, is matter of conjecture. In districts remote from educational centres, where few if any conventions of teachers are held, and opportunities for comparing views among members of the fraternity are rare, improvements are tardily introduced, and the traditional modes of a less enlightened day, are, in such localities at least, doubtless adhered to. The memoriter lesson is marked, "Get from here to here," and, the language learned and recited "word for word like the book," according to order, the pupil is dismissed with approbation,-"perfect, not having missed a word." Ay; he had missed no word; but what ideas has he acquired? What has he learned of the form of the countries; their relative positions on the earth; the habits of their people; their productions, climate, and so forth? Can he give you any rational account of any of these? Is he able to describe the form of the territory, or its surroundings? Can helicate the direction of it from his own home, or answer any of the numerous inquiries that the subject naturally suggests to the mind?
When we confine ourselves to the strict and meagre definition of the word geography, -a description of the earth, we exclude a large amount of valuable knowledge, which is so intimately connected with geography, as to be claimed as part and parcel with it; or— if this is saying too much-should, at any rate, be studied along with it.
There is not, perhaps, in the whole range of studies introduced into our schools, one so suggestive as that of geography; a study which so naturally introduces so extensive a circle of connected subjects; subjects that can more appropriately and naturally be taken up with geography than by themselves or in any other connection. Geography, therefore, needs to be taught; and, without wholly discarding the text-book, the subject should exist mainly in the teacher's
mind, that, having drawn, as it were, the text from the book, the discourse upon it should emanate from the living soul of the instructor. Thus, and thus only, as it seems to me, can that life and spirit be imparted to it so indispensable to infuse the principle of reality.
Hence, there exists a necessity, more or less pressing, for introducing, in these Letters, some account of what may, perhaps, be considered a better method than that of our fathers.
The most effectual way of teaching geography, unquestionably, is to visit the spot of earth under consideration, and there make it the subject of inspection, remark and explanation. No description in language can equal this, nor convey to the mind of the learner any conception of the reality to be compared to it. Next to this is the seeing of the figure of it in material form, with due proportions preserved,—the larger the better, -with all the variety introduced that belongs to the original, as far as the size of the copy will admit. Next, a drawing of the same, including all the lines and boundaries, representing countries, districts, cities, seas, rivers, lakes, mountains, &c.
Proceeding in this order, then,-first by personal inspection, second by the artificial globe, and third by maps, we are prepared for the filling up of language, describing to the learner whatever he may not fully comprehend, and furnishing such information respecting the productions, people, climate, government, and institutions of the region, as are most important to be known.
We will suppose, then, that there is in the school-room an artificial globe, to which the attention of all the pupils is to be called, and the representation of its great natural divisions of land and water pointed out; first, so far as the "foquarters of the globe " are concerned, and the oceans and seas connected therewith. This is as far, perhaps, as the subject could be successfully unfolded to all classes and all ages and grades of mind in the school at once.
The lowest class, or beginners in the study, should now be taught the definitions of the names of the simplest objects, - land and water,
- the pupils, at the same time, sketching them, one by one, on their slates or paper, the teacher having first given their forms and names on the black-board. If the learners first copy the figures from the teacher's drawings, there can be no objection. Many would, doubtless, need this assistance, particularly the very young, at the start. There is no injury done to them by this kind of aid. It is necessary only to stop short of the point where the child's mind and thought are to be principally exercised. At first he will and must be an imitator. Nay, the same instruction must be again and again repeated.