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need not say how peculiarly the remark applies to the young.
But lastly, and above all, let me insist upon the importance of universal practice of everything that is learned. No matter whether it be a rule in arithmetic, or a rule in grammar, a principle in rhetoric, or a theorem in the mathematics; as soon as it is learned and understood, let it be practised. Let exercises be so devised as to make the pupil familiar with its application. Let him construct exercises himself. Let him not leave them until he feels that he understands both the law and its application, and is able to make use of it freely and without assistance. The mind never will derive power in any other way. Nor will it, in any other way, attain to the dignity of certain, and practical, and available science.
So far as we have gone, then, we have endeavoured to show that the business of a teacher is so to communicate knowledge as most constantly and vigorously to exercise the original faculties of the mind. In this manner he will both convey the greatest amount of instruction, and create the largest amount of mental power.
I intended to confirm these remarks by a reference to the modes of teaching some of the most important branches of science. But I fear that I should exhaust your patience, and also that I might anticipate what will be much better illustrated by those who will come after me. I shall, therefore, conclude by applying these considerations to the elucidation of some subjects of general importance.
1. If these remarks be true, they show us in what manner text books ought to be constructed. They should contain a clear exhibition of the subject, its limits and relations. They should be arranged after the most perfect method, so that the pupil may easily survey the subject in all its ramifications; and should be furnished with examples and questions to illustrate every principle which they contain. It should be the design of the author to make such a book as could neither be
studied unless the pupil understood it, nor taught unless the instructer understood it. Such books, in every department, are, if I mistake not, very greatly needed.
If this be true, what are we to think of many of those school books which are beginning to be very much in vogue amongst us? There first appears, perhaps, an abridgement of a scientific text book. Then, lest neither instructer nor pupil should be able to understand it, without assistance, a copious analysis of each page or chapter or section, is added in a second and improved edition. Then, lest, after all, the instructer should not know what questions should be asked, a copious list of these is added to a third and still more improved edition. The design of this sort of work seems to be to reduce all mental exercise to a mere act of the memory, and then to render the necessity even for the use of this faculty as small as may be possible. Carry the principle but a little farther, and an automaton would answer every purpose exactly as well as an instructer. Let us put away all these miserable helps, as fast as possible, I pray you. Let us never forget that the business of an instructer begins where the office of a book ends. It is the action of mind upon mind, exciting, awakening, showing by example the power of reasoning and the scope of generalization, and rendering it impossible that the pupil should not think; this is the noble and the ennobling duty of an instructer.
2. These reinarks will enable us to correct an error which of late has done very much evil to the science of education. Some years since, I know not when, it was supposed, or we have said it was supposed, that the whole business of education was to store the mind with facts. Dugald Stewart, I believe, somewhere remarks that the business of education, on the contrary, is to cultivate the original faculties. Hence the conclusion was drawn that it mattered not what you taught, the great business was to strengthen the faculties. Now this conclusion has assorded to the teacher a most convenient refuge against the pressure of almost every manner of attack. If you
taught a boy rhetoric, and he could not write English, it was sufficient to say that the grand object was not to teach the structure of sentences, but to strengthen the faculties. If you taught him the mathematics, and he did not understand the Rule of Three, and could not tell you how to measure the height of his village steeple, it was all no matter,--the object was to strengthen his faculties. If after six or seven years of study of the languages, he had no more taste for the classics than for Sanscrit, and sold his books to the highest bidder, resolved never again to look into them, it was all no matter,--he had been studying, to strengthen his faculties, while by this very process his faculties have been enfeebled almost to annihilation.
Now, if I mistake not, all this reasoning is false, even to absurdity. Granting that the improvement of the faculties is the most important business of instruction, it does not follow that it is the only business. What! will a man tell me that it is of no consequence whether or not I know the laws of the universe under which I am constituted? Will he insult me, by pretending to teach them to me in such a manner that I shall, in the end, know nothing about them? Are such the results to which the science of education leads? Will a man pretend to illuminate me by thrusting himself, year after year, exactly in my sunshine ? No; if a man profess to teach me the laws of my Creator, let him make the thing plain, let him teach me to remember it, and accustom me to apply it. Otherwise, let him stand out of the way, and allow me to do it for myself.
But this doctrine is yet more false ; for even if it be true, that it matters not what is taught, it by no means follows that it is no matter how it is taught. The doctrine in question, however, supposes that the faculties are to be somehow strengthened by 'going over,' as it is called, a book or a science, without any regard to the manner in which it is done. The faculties are strengthened by the use of the faculties ; but this doctrine has been quoted to shield a mode of teaching, in which they were not used at all; and hence has arisen a great
amount of teaching, which has had very little effect, either in communicating knowledge, or giving efficiency to mind.
Let us, then, come to the truth of the question. It is important what I study; for it is important whether or not I know the laws of my being, and it is important that Isostudy them, that they shall be of use to me. It is also important that my intellectual faculties be improved and therefore important that an instructer do not so employ my time as to render them less efficient.
3. Closely connected with these remarks is the question, which has of late been so much agitated, respecting the study of the ancient languages and the mathematics. On the one part, it is urged that the study of the languages is intended to cultivate the taste and imagination, and that of the mathematics to cultivate the understanding. On the other part, it is denied that these effects are produced; and it is asserted that the time spent in the study of them is wasted. Examples, as may be supposed, are adduced in abundance on both sides; but I do not know that the question is at all decided. Let us see whether anything that we have said will throw any light upon it.
I think it can be conclusively proved, that the classics could be so taught as to give additional acuteness to the discrimination, more delicate sensibility to the taste, and more overflowing richness to the imagination. So much as this, must, we think, be admitted. If, then, it be the fact that these effects are not produced—and I think we must admit that they are not, in any such degree as might reasonably be expected-should we not conclude that the fault is not in the classics, but in our teaching ? Would not teaching them better be the sure way of silencing the clamor against them?
I will frankly confess that I am sad, when I reflect upon the condition of the study of the languages among us. We spend frequently six or seven years in Latin and Greek, and yet who of us writes ---still more, who of us speaks them with facility ? I am sure there must be something wrong in the mode of our
teaching, or we should accomplish more. That cannot be skilfully done, which, at so great an expense of time, produces so very slender a result. Milton affirms, that what in his time was acquired in six or seven years, might have been easily acquired in one. I fear that we have not greatly improved since.
Again, we very properly defend the study of the languages on the ground that they cultivate the taste, the imagination, and the judgment. But is there any magic in the name of a classic? Can this be done by merely teaching a boy to render, with all clumsiness, a sentence from another language into his own? Can the faculties of which we have spoken, be improved, when not one of them is ever called into action No. When the classics are so taught as to cultivate the taste and give vigor to the imagination, when all that is splendid and beautiful in the works of the ancient masters, is breathed into the conceptions of our youth, when the delicate wit of Flaccus tinges their conversation, and the splendid oratory of Tully or the irresistible eloquence of Demosthenes is felt in the senate and at the bar—I do not say that even then we may not find something more worthy of being studied,—but we shall then be prepared, with a better knowledge of the facts, to decide upon the merits of the classics. The same remarks may apply, though perhaps with diminished force, to the study of the mathematics. If, on one hand, it be objected that this kind of study does not give that energy to the powers of reasoning which has frequently been expected, it may, on the other hand, be fairly questioned whether it be correctly taught. The mathematics address the understanding. But they may be so taught as mainly to exercise the memory. If they be so taught, we shall look in vain for the anticipated result. I suppose that a student, after having been taught one class of geometrical principles, should as much be required to combine them in the forms of original demonstration, as that he who has been taught a rule of arithmetic should be required to put