« AnteriorContinuar »
tical result of which is that, in German congregations on Sunday, the whole assembly can usually unite in singing the chant without the aid of a book.
Close of Elementary Religious Instruction. The elementary religious instruction closes with Upper Tertia ; at this point the scholar will have at least completed his fourteenth year; and now, if he desires to leave the school and to enter upon a practical calling, he must be confirmed. Should he however contemplate the completion of the course of the Gymnasium, it is common to delay confirmation to a riper age, perhaps until shortly before the close of the course.
Augustana, &c. It is natural that those statements of the Reformed Faith which were called forth by the Reformation should find place in a scheme of religious instruction, and especially that the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana,) which is justly regarded as affording common meeting-ground for all German Protestants, should be taught. The latter is usually laid before the pupils in its Latin original and quaint German translation, which is, in itself, a valuable monument of the German language of that period.
Geography and History. Geography is taught as the necessary forerunner of History. Most of the earliest instruction is from the teacher's lips, seconded by the admirable wall-maps, with which at State cost every Gymnasium is supplied; and the facts thus communicated are written out by the pupil. After the first principles of Geography have been taught, the native province is made the starting point alike of geographical and historical instruction.
The method of instruction, and the gradual steps by which the pupil's knowledge of history and geography is extended, clearly appear from the outline of study. It may deserve remark that the legends of Greece, Rome, and of our German ancestors, so fascinating to a child, are among the first facts taught in the historical course.
Arithmetic and Mathematics. The Germans regard mathematics, in its higher departments, as a study for the specialist; hence its place in a scheme of formal preparatory training is less prominent than that which it usually occupies in our colleges. The necessity of frequent explanations, and of avoiding difficulties which may discourage the scholar, is felt. The caution to teachers, twice repeated in the plan of instruction for Sexta and Quinta, against assigning to scholars, for home-work, problems possibly beyond their pow. ers to solve, may be particularly noticed. The plan of studythe use of the words Arithmetic and Geometry in a somewhat wider sense than we are accustomed to employ them, so as to cover what we should designate as Algebra and Trigonometry, being noted--is perfectly clear and calls for no further remark.
The object of this department is to awaken the observing faculties, and to impart such an acquaintance with the external world, and with the divisions of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms as the educated man should possess. The drawbacks to the highest efficiency of the course are two: the lack of illustrative apparatus; and the small number of teachers who are specialists in the natural sciences. Yet the exercise, occurring only thrice weekly, furnishes a pleasant variety and is a relief from the constant pressure of the severer lessons.
Latin. This department is, by general consent, the central one of the Gymnasium, and to it all others are regarded as subordinate. It has never been forgotten that the Gymnasium was originally a Latin school, where Latin was not only taught, but also, to a large extent, was the vehicle through which instruction was communicated; and that Gymnasium would be considered to bave failed of its purpose, whatever else it might teach, which should not, in fact, introduce the scholar into a thorough comprehension of the Latin, and through the Latin, of the Greek literature. In the hope of enabling those, who may not have visited Germany, to cast a glance into the interior of a German Gymnasium, and to become familiar with the way
in which instruction is given in the classical languages, the writer proposes to subjoin, at this point, his recollections of a forenoon passed in the winter of 1872) in the three lower classes of the "Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster" in Berlin.* The writer's visit was made in February; and Sexta, which was the first class which he inspected, bad been engaged upon the Latin language since the beginning of studies at Michaelmas of the previous year, or about six months. Sexta was divided for convenience (irrespective of scholarship) into two sections, each containing about forty boys.t
The intention was that study should be done chiefly under the teacher's eye; and the home-tasks were not intended to involve more than from a quarter to half an hour's labor. The forty boys who filled the room assigned to the first division of Sexta were handsome, bright, little fellows, averaging perhaps 11 years in age, many of them of noble families, and all, apparently, ambitious and sensitive. They seemed such boys as one may see in the lower classes of the Boston Latin school.
Dr N., a young scholar, who had taken his doctor's degree with some distinction at the University of Berlin a year before, was the teacher, or ordinarius of Sexta. He began the recitation by giving out, to one boy after another in succession, a number of German phrases to be turned into Latin. These were such as the following: "the lofty tree," "the beautiful house," &c. He continued to give out such phrases until he had more tban made the round of the class. If there was hesitation, on the part of any one, in giving the Latin equivalent, the question passed to the next. Then followed the principal parts of the verbs already learned, called for and given as rapidly as possible; and next, the chief rules for gender. The head boy of the form reported, at the commencement of the lesson, the names of the absentees, and whenever, on the commission of an error, the teacher judged it gross enough to say Tadel (censure) he recorded a demerit against the one who bad blundered.
* This Gymnasium was, before the Reformation, a convent of the Franciscan monks, and takes its name, “The Gray Cloister," from the color of the Franciscan habit. When it was secularized, a portion of its property took the form of a school fund, the income of which is applied to the increase of the salaries of its teachers, to a majority of whom it gives also free quarters. In consequence, it secures the services of a more uniformly able corps of instructors than any other Gymnasium in Germany, and draws also to itself, as scholars, the élite of the youth of Berlin. The Director, Dr. Bonitz, distinguished as a student and commentator of Aristotle, was called less than twenty-five years since to Austria, and charged with that much needed and difficult work, the reform of the Austrian Gymnasiums upon the North German model, an undertaking which he was, in the main, successful in carrying out.
+ The text-books in the three lower classes, Sexta, Quinta, Quarta, visited by the writer, were the time-honored Latin Grammar of Goediké, a famous teacher in Berlin at the beginning of the present century, the Latin Reader of Simon, and Cornelius Nepos; but the larger part of the instruction was really oral, and was devised and given out by the teacher.
In Quinta and Sexta, the influence of emulation is called in, and the boys go up and down, as one answers a question which others have missed, scrambling behind each other on the form on which they sit. One boy received a box on the ear for inattention. In general, however, the attention was excellent, and the eagerness to answer very evident.
The teacher of Quinta was Dr. E., who had recently returned from active service as an officer in the French-German war. Beside his duties in the Gymnasium he was occupied as one of the editors of Boeckh's miscellaneous writings. Dr. E. was in appearance a true Prussian. His bearing was decidedly military; his complexion light, and without a particle of color ; and his eyes a faded blue. He was at the same time severe and sympathetic. Wbile holding his scholars well in hand and ready to repress on the instant any levity, it seemed impossible for him to reprove otherwise than with perfect fairness. He gave out questions with great distinctness and accuracy, requiring the same precision in his scholars' answers. The subject which he was illustrating at the time of my visit was the idiom of the accusative with the infinitive. This he did by the use of numerous examples. I recollect also that a part of the lesson seemed to be the different meaning of consulere as followed by different constructions, e. g., consulere aliquem, alicui, in aliquem. No book whatever was opened during this recitation. The boys were so wrought upon by their zeal to answer the questions of this stern, impassive teacher, that many could not sit still in their seats, but maintained a halfsitting, half-standing posture.
The teacher and ordinarius of Quarta was Dr. W., who had been connected with the Gymnasium for many years, and is the author of several Latin school books. This exercise began with the recitation of the principal parts of verbs, forty or fifty possibly in all, taken at random from the full list which had been memorized. Mistakes were made, I remember, upon cogo and lego. Then followed the lesson in translation, a passage in Cornelius Nepos. The writer cannot say whether it was expected that the scholars should have got this passage out at home or not, for it was not the babit to fix definitely the limit of the lesson, but as much was read in the class as the time allowed. Certainly one or two of the boys called up appeared to be working out, for the first time, the meaning of the passage which they had to translate. It was very interesting to see the little fellows approach the sentence in so systematic a way, considering, first, the general signification of the verb, and the special limitations imposed upon the form in hand by tense and number; then distinguishing the subject and object, and assigning the various modifiers of each to their proper place. These scholars thought, so to speak, aloud, and the course of thought by which they proceeded to the comprehension of the sentence before them was methodical and unwavering, and entirely different from the guess-work by which one attempts to solve a puzzle. These youthful Quartani, was the thought of the writer, are already accomplished scholars as far as they have gone; their knowledge is perfectly definite; and passages of a certain difficulty they can undertake to read, at sight, because the elements necessary to such an achievement are already in their possession. The paradigms they know; the meaning of the inflexional forms they understand. To misplace the parts of a sentence is for them impossible They cannot do otherwise than translate correctly as far as they go, and though they may be ignorant of the meaning of a single word, they will be able to assign even to it its proper grammatical construction.
The Latin of each sentence was always read aloud before it was translated. The writer noticed on the teacher's desk several maps of Asia Minor and Greece, which had been drawn, voluntarily, by scholars of the form, to illustrate the campaigns of the military leaders, the story of whose life they had been reading in Nepos.
In addition to the lessons just described of these consecutive classes, the writer was present at two recitations in upper Tertia ; the first, an Extemporalium; the second, a recitation in Cicero.