« AnteriorContinuar »
but induces a habit of consideration, caution, and correctness in speaking, which is of inestimable value.
6. In all cases where it is practicable, it is best that questions should be asked in the language of the instructor, and answered in that of the pupil, instead of using printed questions, and giving answers verbatim as they have been marked with a pencil. If the pupil does not know precisely what questions will be asked, or in what form they will be put, and finds it necessary to answer more by an exercise of understanding than by an act of memory, he will exert himself to understand the subject; and by so doing he will acquire more knowledge, will cultivate his mental faculties in a higher degree, and will become far more deeply interested in his studies, than by pursuing a different course.
7. The various means of stimulating a student which have been brought into view are chiefly included in the general idea of a skilful method of teaching. I shall now briefly advert to a few, which are of a some. what different nature. One of these is derived from the power of sympathy. There is, in the human breast, a propensity to feel the same emotions which we see manifested by another on whom our attention is fixed. Hence, if a child perceives that those who are around him, especially his teacher and parents, take a pleasure in knowing those things which he is learning, his own desire to know them, and his pleasure in learning them, will be greatly increased. This is probably the principal reason, that where we find in parents a taste for reading and literary pursuits, we usually find the same in their children. But when a child knows that his parents and teacher consider learning as an irksome task, and expect him to consider it so, his heart
is closed against the sweet influences of knowledge, and he imbibes an antipathy to the very sight or name of a book.
8. Another means of stimulating the student is the pleasure of meeting the approbation of his teacher, parents, and friends. What pleasure more exquisite than that of knowing that we give pleasure to others ? What sweeter bliss than that of being beloved by those whom we love? Such is the pleasure which the child enjoys when he sees the approving smile of his parent or teacher. When he gives an account of what he has learned, or answers questions relative to it, to hear his teacher say, " You have got your lesson well;" or, “ I am glad that you understand this lesson so well," is a reward which would compensate him for hours of toil, even if the getting of the lesson had been in itself a hard and painful task. How unfit, then, for their office are those teachers who listen to the recitations of their pupils with cold indifference, and seldom manifest a lively pleasure in witnessing their improvement! But here inuch caution must be used, lest a spirit of rivalry should be excited, attended with vanity and pride on the one hand, and with envy and hatred, ill-humour and despondency, on the other. Where several are associated in the same study, it will happen that some will get their lessons much better than others who are equally studious. In such cases, there is much danger of wounding the feelings of the latter by the bestowment of praise on the former. Where it is possible, it is much the best way to praise a whole class at a time. Where this cannot be done, let commendation be sparingly and cautiously bestowed on those who have distinguished themselves, and let every appearance of harshuess, censure, or impatience be avoided in regard to those whose efforts have been less successful. And whenever these latter individuals happen to get a lesson better than usual, tell them so, and let them see that you feel a double pleasure in their improvement. Where scholars are indolent, or negligent, or do not try to learn, it is proper to let them know how much pain their conduct gives you ; and perhaps sometimes a gentle reprimand for their waste of time and misimprovement of privileges may be expedient; but any degree of harshness, anything like scolding, driving, or compulsion, so far from making them love learning, will only serve to increase their aversion to it. Whether corporal punishment should ever be used in a school, to deter from the commission of crimes, is a question which it does not belong to me to decide or discuss; but sure I am, that the rod and the ferule are the worst means that eyer were devised to get knowledge into the head, or the love of it into the heart.
9. Another means of stimulating the student is to associate as many pleasing ideas as possible with the thought of his lesson, his book, his school, and his teacher. The expectation of being approved and commended is indeed included in this head; but there are many other pleasing associations, by whose aid flowers may be strewed in the path of learning. A child should always hear an opportunity to learn spoken of as a privilege; a school, as a pleasant place; and an instructor, as a friend. Let this be done, and let every school be made indeed a pleasant place, and every instructor show himself a cordial friend to his pupils, avd children would soon love their school as well as they do their play. A teacher of a common school should be a person of an affectionate disposition; one who loves children, and whose patience and kindness are never exhausted by their ignorance, dulness, and numerous little faults. Yet all the efforts of the most affectionate, skilful, and indefatigable teacher may avail little, where they are counteracted by parents and others out of school, who view the subject in a wrong light, and are daily enstamping their false views on the minds of children.
10. Another means of stimulating the student is to point out to him the connexion between a good education and his future comfort and happiness. On pupils who are old enough to be capable of understanding this connexion, the consideration may be made to bear with great weight. It does not require much discernment or reflection to see, that a cultivated and well-furnished mind is not only a great help in managing one's pecuniary and temporal affairs so as to secure a comfortable subsistence, but adds greatly to a man's respectability and influence as a member of the community.
11. I shall name but one more means of stimulating the student to exertion; and that is, a sense of duty and of future accountability. Let the pupil be made to feel that he owes duties to himself, to his fellow-men, and to his Maker, which he can discharge only by diligence and assiduity in the acquisition of useful knowJedge. Let him be made to feel that if he neglects to do all in his power to promote in the highest degree his own happiness and the happiness of all to whom his inAuence may extend, he does wrong, and must suffer the reproaches of an accusing conscience, and incur the dis. approbation of Him who " is greater than the heart and knoweth all things.” Let him never forget that time is short; that he has much to do; and that, of the manner in which these fleeting moments are spent a review must hereafter take place and an account be rendered. Let him hence be made to feel that time is precious ; that his privileges are precious; and that he has no right to waste the one or neglect the other.