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As the tempers of most of the children, when first brought to the School, were capricious and prone to irritation, so also their powers of attention were in a lamentable degree unfixable. It was difficult to engage them, for even a few minutes, to any one set of objects presented to their senses ; and in truth, until some information was conveyed to their minds, of the uses or pleasures of instruction, no durable impressions were made.
The children are all taught to write. A few of them had made some progress in this art before admission; and one, in particular, from the Foundling Hospital, could write fluently, though unacquainted with the meaning of the words which he copied. In almost every instance, they have rapidly acquired a free use of their pens. Some, who appear to possess considerable talents for drawing, have begun to learn that useful art, partly on Pestolozzi's system, and partly in the ordinary manner, under the direction of Mr. Pierce, a gentleman eminent in this branch, though not a professor, who has kindly given his assistance to the pupils; and to whom the Committee are pleased to have an opportunity of thus publicly expressing their obligations.
An essential part of the apparatus of instruction in a School of this kind, is a large collection of classified pictures of natural and artificial objects. These have been derived from a book published for the use of the London Deaf and Dumb Asylum, and are suspended around the School-room, to familiarize the pupils with the objects they represent, and the names by which they are severally distinguished. Thus, also, the children learn expertness in the interpretation of signs and gestures, which quickens and enlarges their powers of mimic representation, and by improving their common language of dumb show, facilitates and enlivens their mutual intercourse. They all learn the language of the fingers, and can now execute it with much skill, and some of them with surprising rapidity. In arithmetic, their progress has not yet been considerable: many of them, however, can numerate to a bigh amount, either with actual quantities or with figures, or numeral words; and several can calculate combinations of the smaller numbers in simple addition.
Some of the pupils have also made considerable progress in acquiring the power of producing articulate sounds; though less time bas kitherto been devoted to this branch of their education than it appears to deserve. It is obvious, that the Deaf and Dumb pupil can learn to articulate, only by observing with his eyes, and tracing with his fingers, the various movements of the several organs of speech, which his teacher exhibits in the act of enunciation. This process is sometimes slow and laborious, and must ever be in some degree defective in the principle of modulation. Yet in spite of the uncouth and dissonant tones produced by the pupil, in his first efforts, it is certain, that an intelligible medium of intercourse is thus placed within his reach, to which he can resort, under circum. stances that preclude the use of manual signs.
To the common observer, speech is the most surprising attainment which the Dumb can be made to acquire. Accordingly, its uses, comparatively at least with other objects of intellectual culture, have been sometimes overrated. Yet these prejudices are more nearly allied to truth than those of an opposite kind, which, would depreciate the attainment to the level of mere work.” Infants, who have the faculty of hearing, are indeed taught to articulate, much in the manner of mocking-birds; but as the Deaf and Dumb are either previously or simultaneously taught the use of written language, the meaning of every word which they pronounce is invariably associated with its utterance. In short, the organs of articulation are used by them, precisely with the same intent as they would otherwise employ gesture, or the language of their pens or fingers.
An objection, apparently of more weight, against the practice of teaching the Deaf and Dumb to articulate, is the length of time which is supposed to be consumed in the process. This however is strictly a relative consideration, and can justly import no more than that higher objects should not be sacrificed to the mere cultivation of speech. According to the experience of the Committee in the Dublin School, it would appear, that considerable progress may be made by the pupils in this art, without sensibly interfering with other pursuits. The children themselves, let it be remarked, take peculiar pleasure in this part of their instruction; it obviously supplies one of their most painful deficiencies, and serves to raise them nearer to a level with the rest of their fellow creatures. They are frequently overheard, when alone, repeating the lessons which they had just learned from their master; and the less advanced often eagerly inquire, when they shall be able to speak as well as the senior pupils. It is also found, that speech, by augmenting the sensible associations between words and things, serves to fix and facilitate the general acquisition of knowledge; and as an improved medium of intercourse with those around them, especially with such as are not perfectly familiar with their language of signs, no greater proof of its value can be given, than, that the pupils tbemselves seldom fail to use the vocal terms with which they are acquainted, in preference to any kind of significant or arbitrary sign.
The following general plan of tuition is adopted in the School. Five hours in the day are employed at lessons: the boys are divided into five classes, and are placed in as many distinct seats. Each of these classes is provided with a different lesson; either in the several parts of language, or in arithmetic or articulation. At the end of each hour, the classes change their seats, so that all in rotation perform the several exercises, without wearying their attention upon any one of them.
Monitors are employed in the Dublin School, on a plan somewhat different from that which is usually adopted. Each boy is appointed monitor of the class next below his own, in weekly rotetion, without selection or competition for the post. Thus all have
the benefit of the reciprocal exercises of learning and teaching, of direction and submission; which, while it inculcates habits of order, tends to fix their acquirements, and to improve their inventive ingenuity; and neither the differences of natural talent, nor the more invidious distinctions of rivalship, are permitted to interfere with these important objects.
With respect to Punishments and Rewards, the principles so admirably unfolded by Pestalozzi are adhered to, as far as possible. · It has been an object of studious care, to cultivate the tempers and moral habits of the pupils, as an important part of Christian education. The masters, therefore, have used much diligence to exclude the strise and envy of competition, to obviate the discouragements of failure, and to repress the triumph of comparative success. They have endeavoured, at least, to lead the pupils to a relish for knowledge, and a love of industry, for the sake of the benefits they intrinsecally afford. On the same prineiples, all parade and exhibition are prohibited; and strangers visiting the School, if they have à real taste for simple and ingenuous manners, will be cautious of tainting these artless children with idle sentiments of vanity or display.
The Committee, having experienced many obstacles to the formation of this School, in the reserve practised at some other Institutions of a similar kind, decided, at the suggestion of the Secretary, that every part of the process of instruction, both in its methods and results, shall be open to observation and inquiry. Nothing is concealed, even from casual visiters; a book is provided, with a sincere desire and an earnest request, that every person may record in its pages,
without hesitation, either criticisms on what he may witness in the order and economy of the School, or hints for improving the methods of instruction.
Hitherto a very small School for boys only has been attempted. But the female sex presents claims to the public regard not less urgent and affecting. In the present state of the funds of the Charity, this latter object is entirely out of reach. But as a good subject never despairs of the prosperity of the commonwealth, so the founders of this Establishment are not discouraged in their anticipations of eventual success, on a scale adequate to the general wants of the country.
The most desirable scheme, if it could be effected, would probably be this; to establish jointly, in the same institution, a day school, aboarding school, and a work shop ; so that the profits of the latter, and the contingent contributions of certain pupils to the former, might serve, in a great measure, to the permanent maintenance of the establishment. In order to this arrangement, however, a fund
ust be raised, for the purchase of a suitable house, either in some public part of Dublin, or perhaps more advantageously in the suburbs; together with a stock of materials and implements of employment. The nicer kinds of cabinet work, watch making, jewellery, designing, and engraving, are admirably executed by Deaf and Dumb workmen, whose organs of sight and touch become, from habit, exquisitely cultivated. As compositors of the press also, they have often distinguished themselves by their alacrity and precision; and a printing-office, established under such auspices, would at all times, it may be hoped, cominand the patronage of other Charitable Institutions; and according to its intrinsic merits, extend its claims to general business.
Many curious anecdotes might be cited, to show both the natural and improved capacities of the children now educating in the National School. But these pages have already exceeded their just limits. One incident, however, relating to Thomas Collins, (the boy already mentioned,) may be briefly told, as likely to interest those readers at least who have a sympathy for his misfortunes. Being one evening present where some gentlemen, who had been kind to him, were engaged in a conversation that seemed to interest them deeply, he watched the changing expression of their countenances with the most minute and anxious attention, as if endeavouring to catch some knowledge of what seemed to afford them so much entertainment, and striving, as it were, to burst the bonds which withheld him from the social circlė. He repeatedly asked, by signs, to be informed what was the source of their obvious gratification ; but the subject of the conversation being beyond the range of his attainments at that time, he could receive no answer fitted to satisfy his curiosity. Finding all his little efforts to participate in their pleasure fruitless, and productive only of disappointment, the poor child at last turned away his head, with a countenance expressive of the deepest regret and dejection, and almost bursting into tears, he said, “Deaf and Dumb is bad, is bad.”
That every humane breast will feel the force of the simple and pathetic exclamation, must not be doubted. Miserable, indeed, is the present state of those who are cut off from communion with their fellow creatures, and suffered to remain so, without the helping hand of benevolence to rescue them from their forlorn condition. If voluntary degradation be pitiable, how much more affecting is the calainity of those whom natural impediments bave excluded from the commonest blessing, the social atmosphere, as it were, of life. But the charge of insensibility to the misfortunes of these objects, which has so long rested as a cloud over the benevolent character of the Irish nation, is now likely to be dispersed. A general interest seems to be awakening towards the indigent Deaf and Dumb of this island, which, it is hoped, will shortly, by accelerating the advancement of this important work of charity, serve to redeem the time which has been lost. Let not our neighbours in England and Scotland, nor any other civilized nation, have reason to reproach our supineness ; let not the eye of Providence any longer witness the tardy fulfilment of this obvious but long neglected Christian duty !!!
The first Annual Report of the Ladies' Branch of the Liverpool
Auxiliary Bible Society; for 1818. THE COMMITTEE of the LIVERPOOL AUXILIARY BIBLE SOCIETY having announced, in their Sixth Report, that the LIVERPOOL LaDIES' AuxiliARY SOCIETY was formed on the 25th of March, in the last year, for the purpose of distributing the Scriptures amongst the poor of the town and neighbourhood, and of accompanying that distribution with such a minute investigation into the wants of the inhabitants as had been beyond the reach of gentlemen engaged in the numerous avocations of active life, it now becomes the duty of the Ladies' Committee to present their subscribers with a brief narrative of its proceedings.
Anxious to lose no time in executing the important commission intrusted to them, your Committee, then consisting of twenty-four members, immediately solicited the aid of such ladies as were willing to act as a Sub-committee, in canvassing small portions of the town. Sixty-four ladies offered their assistance, and were accepted. Each engaged to ascertain the want of Bibles and Testaments in a small district near her own habitation; to supply it, according to the circumstances of the individuals, by collecting their weekly contributions for the purchase of Bibles and Testaments, either at the cost, or at reduced prices; and to forward, monthly, to the Committee the sums thus received, together wiih a statement of her proceedings, and of the circumstances of such persons as appeared suitable objects for gifts. In these labours it was the privilege of several of your Committee to participate; and, previous to the close of the year, about 500 persons entered their names as subscribers for Bibles, and about 200 as free contributors.* One hundred and fiftyeight Bibles and 113 Testaments were thus purchased by subscria bers of small sums; 22 Testaments were lent to the sick, and 2 Bi
* Amongst these were the girls in the Caledonian and Friends’schools. The former subscribed £3 3s, the latter £4 88 5d, claiming the amount in Bibles, first to supply themselves, then such of their school-fellows as could not procure them. Upon inquiry why one of the girls in the Caledonian school was behind her class in religious knowledge, the fact was ascertained, that she was the only girl in the school whose parents were destitute of the Bible. May we hope the day is not distant when, through the medium of the Bible Society, the children in all our schools, private as well as public, shall be equally well provided ? In the report of the Everton Ladies' Bible Association, the following pleasing circumstances are stated:—"In Bootle we found only ten out of fifty-four families destitute of Bibles, and traced this general diffusion of the sacred volume to the attendance of most of the children at the neighbouring charity schools.” A man, who lived in Bootle, being asked if he had a Bible, replied, "he thanked God he had.” It was soon perceived, from the manner in which he expressed himself, that he duly appreciated its value. He acknowledged, with gratitude, that, through the medium of that blessed book, which his children had received at the charity school, they had not only learnt the way of salvation themselves, but had taught him also. His Bible being small, ne subscribed for a large one; adding, that, when he had paid for it, he hoped to contribute something as a free subscriber.