Imatges de pÓgina

mencement of his operation. The sense of vision being the principle inlet to the mind of an infant, seems to be the grand secret of infant instruction:

"Most of those who had been entered did not come at the time my labours commenced, and we bad, after much exertion, an entirely new brood. These came on the Monday morning, and as soon as the mothers had left the premises, I attempted to engage the attention of their offspring. I shall never forget the effort. A few, who had been previously at a dame school, sat quietly; but the rest, missing their parents, crowded about the door. One little fellow, finding he could not open it, set up a loud cry of "Mammy! mammy!" and, in raising this delightful sound, all the rest simultaneously joined. My wife, who, though reluctant at first, had determined, on my accepting the situation, to give me her utmost aid, tried with myself to calm the tumult, but our efforts were utterly in vain. The paroxysm of sorrow increased instead of subsiding; and so intolerable did it become, that she could endure it no longer, and left the room; and, at length, exhausted by effort, anxiety, and noise, I was compelled to follow her example, leaving my unfortunate pupils in one dense mass, crying, yelling, and kicking against the door! I will not attempt to describe my feelings; but ruminating on what I then considered egregious folly, in supposing that any two persons could manage so large a number of infants, I was struck by the sight of a cap of my wife's adorned with coloured ribbons, lying on the table; and observing from the window a clothes-prop, it occurred that I might put the cap upon it, return to the school, and try the effect. The confusion when I entered was tremendous; but on raising the pole, surmounted by the cap, all the children, to my great satisfaction, were instantly silent; and when any hapless wight seemed disposed to renew the noise, a few shakes of the prop restored tranquillity, and perhaps produced a laugh. The same thing, however, will not do long; the charms of this wonderful instrument, therefore, soon vanished, and there would have been a sad relapse but for the marchings, gambols, and antics, I found it necessary to adopt, and which at last brought the hour of twelve to my greater joy than can easily be conceived. "Revolving these circumstances, I felt that that memorable morning had not passed in vain, I had, in fact, found the clue. It was now evident that the senses of the children must be engaged; that the great secret of training them was to descend to their level, and become a child, and that the error had been to expect in infancy what is only the product of after years."-p. 3.

Visible objects then being the important agents of infant instruction, we are not surprised at finding a large portion of the knowledge communicated in these schools to be of this character. All that is abstract, indefinite, and vague, ever has and ever will have a tendency to destroy the enthusiasm for knowledge common to most children. The Infant system, therefore, very properly attempts to give ideas through the senses, and by this means to cultivate not only the senses themselves, but to develope other powers and faculties through their medium. Thus teaching by pictures is one most important method of instruction. A variety of pictures are used for this purpose, exhibitory of natural objects, houses, bridges, churches, farm-yards, ships, animals, trees, and the miracles of the Old and New Testament; from which the most striking religious inferences are often drawn. We have seen a lively painting of the shepherd and sheep introduced, which led to a conversation on the nature of the sheep and the occupation of the shepherd. The little squad being in a raised gallery, the

teacher attracts their attention to the picture with a stick or wand. What is this?-Children, A sheep. What is on its back?-Wool. What is wool used for?-To make cloth, flannel, worsted, stuff, &c. What is dead sheep called?-Mutton. Then the value of the sheep is pointed out: What are sheep put in at night?-A fold. Do they always keep there?—No, sometimes they get out and go astray, and cannot find their way back again. Who sometimes go astray like sheep? We do. What do the scriptures say about this?" All we, like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way?" Who brings the sheep back again when they go astray?The shepherd. What does he do for the sheep besides?-He guides and watches them, and leads them where the grass is nice and rich; and when they fall into any place, he pulls them out with his crook. Who is our shepherd?-The Lord. How do you know that?— Because it says in the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."-Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. What would a good shepherd do for his sheep?-Risk his life for them; if they fell into the water he would jump in after them; if a wild beast ran away with them he would follow it and get them away. Did any body ever do so?—Yes, David, who was a shepherd before he was a king. One night when he was minding his sheep, a lion and a bear came and took a lamb out of his flock, and he went after them and killed them both, and saved the poor lamb's life. Was David stronger than the lion and the bear?-No, they were the strongest, but God helped him to conquer them: I dare say David prayed in his heart as he went along after them; yes, and while he was fighting with them too: and he killed a giant after that, with God's help, although he had nothing but a sling and a stone. The children are probably at another time brought back to the subject in a different way, and the good shepherd giving his life for the sheep is associated with the sacrifice and death of Christ. The Paschal lamb, as a type of Christ is introduced, and the institution of the passover is touched upon, which according to the capacities of the children is simplified and impressed so that by means the most striking, and at the same time the most simple, impressions are made of the most vivid and serious kind. Only look at the knowledge and the variety of feelings brought out in this one subject. There is first the nature and uses of the animal, its habits and character, next a feeling of dependence and humility in knowing of our liability to go astray: then admiration and love for the character of the good shepherd, and of him who is the bishop of our souls. There is the admiration of David's affection for his sheep, and his boldness and trust in the Lord's protection and strength, and all the divine feelings of affection for their Lord, who carries the lambs in his bosom; feelings which we have seen drawn forth in tears and in sobs. Such a mode of instruction, for the picture method illustrates the general mode, comprehends, if faithfully and zealously imparted by a teacher who loves the company of children, the most perfect and congenial system that has been invented. It bears alike on the intellect and on the heart, on the mental and moral powers; and while it would enlighten and exalt

the one, would soften and subdue the other, by the all-hallowing influence of religious truth.

In a similar manner are pictures of a variety of animals treated, the miracles explained, illustrated, and the most important religious truths conveyed to the mind through their media. While the object is to teach more by things than by words, because in the formation of an idea, more is necessary than merely bringing the object before the senses; yet no means are lost to give a knowledge of words; the qualities of a visible object are explained, its origin accounted for, its parts described, its relation to other things ascertained; its use, its effects, and its consequences stated; and all this being done, viva voce, insensibly gives the child a knowledge and command of words, and it is astonishing to observe the perspicuity and force with which children thus instructed give utterance to their ideas. The child is not only the thing acted upon, but becomes an agent in the improvement of his own mind; the powers of reflection and deduction are called out at an early period; and at the same time that the moral faculties are called into habitual action, so are the reasoning ones; the one acting as a balance upon the other, regulating the motions of that extraordinary machine—the human mind, and leading the human subject towards harmonious action.

Speaking, however, more systematically, the exercises recommended for employing the head, and eliciting thought in the infant schools are such as embrace form, number, and language. Form, or Geometry, to speak scientifically, in its simplest elements is taught by means of a large black board and a piece of chalk. A dot is madethe master asks, What is this?-A point. What is a point?—The smallest thing that can be. Is this that I have made the smallest thing that can be ?-Oh, no; it might have been a deal smaller than that, but if you had made it smaller, we could not have seen it. Do you know any thing that has got a true point?-A needle. Can you see the point of a needle?—Yes, we can just see it. Well, how many lines can I draw from this point ?-As many or as few as you please. Suppose I draw lines from it in every direction, what will the point form to the whole of the lines?-A centre. What will the lines do from the point?-Diverge, or go from each other. And what towards the point?-Converge, or go towards each other. From one point the leader proceeds to two, when a discovery is made, that between two points one line only can be drawn. The reason is shown by asking and explaining; that as every line must have two ends, and as each end of every line is a point, therefore one line only can be drawn between two points. Well, but if three points be marked out, how many lines can be got between them ?— You can get three lines between three points. But why can three lines be produced between three points, and only one between two points? Because from the third point you work to the two points you had before, and that produces two more lines. It must be understood that the children are not instructed thus to answer, neither do they speak in this precise language; but having such simple problems worked before their eyes, they see the case for them

selves, and according to the impression received, answer in their own language.

Lines of all kinds, straight or arched, waved, &c., are shown and explained in a similar manner, and by the association of points, lines, and angles, many will be produced; especially of triangles, quadrangles, and others, containing many sides and angles. Each teacher is also proveded with an instrument, made of tin, iron, or brass, cut in ten or twelve pieces of equal length, which are rivetted together at the ends, and with which he can at pleasure form figures of various kinds, and by which the children observe the difference between an acute, a right, or an obtuse angle; equilateral, scalene, and isosceles triangles; oblongs, squares, circles, ovals, regular and irregular pentagons, hexagons, and polygons; the diameter of circles and their contents; also semicircles, ovals, spiral lines, concave and convex angles, are made the subject of thinking lessons. These are applied to the works of nature, the various objects of which are framed into one or more of these geometrical shapes. For example, a tree possesses its points, lines, and angles; its leaves, its branches, its stem and fruit, are either circular, oval, conical, oblong, or spiral; while the various parts of animals and the human frame exhibit some or other of these forms. Hence, ask an infant scholar to show you an angle, and it will point to its elbow or its knuckle: ask for a concave angle, and it will point to a corner of its eye or to its mouth; or for a circle, it will point to its eyeball; and even this is made subservient at times to a moral lesson. A lady, one day, asked a class of children she was examining, to tell her a circle of the body:" an answer having been given, she continued, What can you do with your eye. "We can see," was the general answer; but one little girl said “ we can sin too.' How," rejoined the lady, can you sin with your eye." "If we see a young lady or gentleman with very nice clothes, and wish they were ours, we covet what is our neighbour's, and sin with our eyes against God.

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The elements of this science is taught by objects. The child is never instructed in anything abstractedly. Two apples or two books can be conceived readily; but a child will never understand that two and two make four abstractedly: therefore beans, marbles, or more generally a frame, containing ten wires, and in each wire different coloured balls are placed. Thus the children are always perfectly aware of what they are doing, and also know the reason why, in all their exercises. Change the state of the question, and they are not puzzled as those are who see only as far as the mechanical rule goes and no farther thus, while it produces confidence and a feeling of safety, it gives them also much delight; and a difficulty overcome, with a consciousness of a felicitous effort, always prompts to the undertaking of a new one. The consequence is, that children well versed in these elementary exercises, afterwards display great skill in mental calculations. One of the most effective methods of imparting the knowledge

of number, so as to interest and delight the mind is the following:The teacher desires his pupils to hold up their hands; he then asks how many each of them has? two; how many fingers on one hand? five: what have you on your fingers? joints, or knuckles: how many joints on each finger? three: on two fingers? six: on three fingers? nine: on four fingers? twelve: on that hand? fifteen: on both hands? thirty. How many fifteens are there in thirty? two: how many tens? three: how many fives? six: how many sixes? five. Ideas of fractions or parts of them, are communicated in the same manner. A fruit—as an apple, or a root—as a turnip, is divided into two and named; divide each piece, and they see and name four; the four divided give the idea of eight, and the eight of sixteen, the sixteen of thirty-two, and the thirty-two of sixty-four, &c. Thus, in the simplest way, are taught simple and compound numbers. Subtraction, multiplication, and division in its simple parts, are taught after the same manner, and always applied to something that the children can understand. Money, weights, and measures, are taught by a reference being made to real money, weights, and measures; scales and weights being used before the children from time to time. The divisions of time are taught on the black board, divided like a clock, and a variety of other operations of the same kind are made by means of visible objects being chalked thereon.


Language and the rudiments of grammar are taught on a similar principle. The things themselves are first taught and the technicalities are left until the last. Nouns are taught as the names of things, and visible things are the illustrations. There is in many schools, what is called a grammatical picture, in which the whole of the parts of speech are introduced: a landscape exhibiting a church, a mill, water, fields, trees, the sun, a dog, a man, and various other objects; first the simple nouns are pointed out, then the man is tall, or the dog is black, the church is high, and the trees are green, which shows the adjectives; then the teacher proposes to put the things into motion, which gives an idea of the verbs:—the man walks, the dog barks, the mill turns, the stream runs, the horse trots, and the trees wave; then the position of things is shown:-the stream is under the mill, the steeple is above the church, the dog is beside the man, the horse is without the stable, &c. The pronouns, articles, and conjunctions are easily shown; and the gender, number, and the cases of the noun, and the tenses of the verb, are explained in a familiar way, and in connection with the pictorial representations, Such are the methods by which ideas are communicated to the mind. The most striking and principle auxiliaries to these, are drawing, writing, reading, and singing; with a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and of nature.

Drawing in some schools is attempted in a limited degree for a variation and an amusement; and the outlines of Geometry, before taught, are naturally associated with it, as is also writing. The child can already make straight lines, curved lines, circles, and ovals: he now makes a VOL. I,-Feb. 1835.


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