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the mind which neither length of days nor the cares of the world can efface."
SHALL I KEEP MY SCHOLARS AFTER SCHOOL ?
This question has interested and perplexed many a teacher. Many object to keeping scholars after the regular school hours; but it is presumed that it is the practice, to a greater or less extent, of a large majority of teachers. Yet it is open to very grave objections. It is a superadded labor for the tired teacher, who needs quiet and rest after school-hours; and no one will deny that usually it is irksome and annoying to the scholars. But it seems to be a necessity, and doubtless has its advantages. It serves as a punishment for offences, and is a favorable time, it is said, to hear lessons which have been imperfectly recited. Just so we have argued, and have practised accordingly, as extensively as most any one. But is there not a more excellent way? Try the following. The regular time for dismissing, we will say, is half past four. Inform the scholars that all who will go through the day without failing in recitation, and with satisfactory deportment, may be dismissed at four. The writer has pursued this course for many months with pleasing results. Scholars will work hard to gain a little time, - even as little as half an hour a day. Then, too, it is something of an honor to leave school thus early under such circumstances. It is admitted that this plan is not entirely free from objections. There is half an hour less for recitation; but, with a little planning, the recitations can be accommodated to such an arrangement with but little inconvenience. It certainly furnishes a good opportunity to render such assistance as they may require to those who remain. It may be said that it would be virtually closing school at four, and keeping a number, more or less, after school. Not exactly. At least scholars do not so regard it.
But, whatever objections may be urged against such a course, they are more than outweighed, we believe, by those which almost every teacher has felt to exist against the old custom of “staying after school.” Stating the two plans, the matter would stand about thus: “Get your lessons and behave yourselves, or you shall stay after school.” In the other case: “ Conforming to the requirements of the school, you may have the privilege of doing your work in five and one-half hours, instead of six, thus gaining to yourselves half an hour.” It can be seen that two entirely different classes of motives are appealed to. In the one case, a threat is made; in the other, an encouragement offered. In the one case, a penalty is attached; in the other, a reward is proposed. In the first instance, it is, “ You must;” in the second, “ Please do this.” One is driving, the other leading. But few men relish the idea of being driven, and children are much like other people. It is well to lead, when we can, and drive, when we must.
C. W. c.
GLEANINGS. LEARNING LANGUAGES. — The most anxious efforts are made by parents, in the present day, to have their children taught a variety of foreign languages; and far more attention is bestowed on this part of education than on any other, except perhaps music. The child is hardly out of its cradle when it is handed over to a French bonne, and then comes an Italian or a German nursery governess. The young ladies are made to speak all day long that peculiar language, formed of a French vocabulary and an English grammar and pronunciation, which is so highly prized at boarding-schools; and then arrives the time of professors in German and Italian, lectures on Goethe, lectures on Dante, and perhaps a little flirting with Danish and Spanish. This is the least that any highly educated. girl can know, unless she is prepared to be very much ashamed of herself. There is undoubtedly a considerable satisfaction to all parties in the process. Parents seem to be really doing something for their children when they get so many servants and teachers for languages; and a mother has some hopes of cutting out her neighbors when she can scarcely reckon on the fingers of one hand all the engines of instruction in languages which she has set to work.
In the first place, this learning of languages is scarcely an educational process at all, if the term “education " is used strictly. It
does not call out any power of the mind. It does not help either thinking or the expression of thought. The very object is, that the child should pick up the foreign language almost as easily and as naturally as its own; and a child cannot be said to be educated by learning its own language. Still it undoubtedly makes a show, if a young person can change at pleasure from English to German or French; and this palpable and measurable success is gratifying to parents and teachers. A child is very lucky if it is not taught by this process to be superficial. It is praised and admired for what is as easy to it as talking English; and this is very pleasant. The language is not learnt, nor is it intended to be learnt, as a subject of thought and study; and it is wonderful how superficial a knowledge of a language a person may have who still can speak it pretty well. Boarding-school French is a sort of conventional tongue, in which a very limited number of sounds express the varied feelings of the speaker, by the aid of her dexterous pantomime and the intelligence of the hearer. The simple expression chose renders almost every other substantive unnecessary; and this very limitation is praised, and the enforcement of French conversation is often defended, on the ground that the girls would talk such dreadful nonsense to each other, if they were allowed to talk English; whereas French, at least, puts some sort of limit to their silliness. Of course, languages may be used as a means of education, and no language of the modern world is comparable to French for this purpose. No study will better repay an intelligent and well-managed young person than French grammar. But then it is a very difficult and elaborate subject, and wants a great deal of hard work to master it. The French go on exactly the opposite plan to that which we adopt. They scarcely pretend to know any language but their own. They make too little of the adrantages of knowing another language, and suffer by the popularity which their language enjoys as a medium of communication. But then they know their own language beautifully. They work at it day after day. They get up all the niceties. They learn to state grammatical rules in a symmetrical way. They know French almost as a good Greek or Latin scholar knows the languages of the classical world. Even moderately educated French women at least know one thing well, for they know French. Of course, it would be possible for the young English woman to make French the subject of severe and sustained study. But this is thought unnecessary; because she already knows French, and can talk it by the hour, — particularly to other young ladies. A real knowledge of French is rare, because it is very hard work to gain it, and because it requires a very considerable amount of capacity. It would also take up far too much time. How cсuld a young lady learn all physical science, and the history of the world from Egypt downwards, and three or four accomplishments, if she stopped to learn French thoroughly? Nor, if she took a fancy to learn it, could she, as a rule, get it taught her. The best French teachers, undoubtedly, can teach it; but then she may not be in the way of the best French teachers. Foreign governesses seldom teach anything accurately; for they are not kept up to it by their English employers, and have no power of commanding obedience and care. Nor would they get any good, if they tried to teach better; for they would be giving something which is not wanted, and nothing answers so little as to try to teach anything that is not in fashion.
But it is said that it is such a great advantage to be able to read the works of great Continental authors in the original, and that a girl who has been taught French and German and Italian has thus a ready access to the literature of the countries with the language of which she is familiar. About one girl in a hundred really makes the knowledge of the language a key to an acquaintance with foreign literature. The remainder never get near the literature. They spell through a play of Schiller and a few pages of Tasso, and then they bid good-by to such troublesome writers. No one who knows what an amount of hard, dry study, what a capacity for understanding unfamiliar thought, what a willingness to receive new and often unpalatable ideas, is required to make any progress in any foreign literature, would ever think of speaking as if an ordinary English * girl, with a rapid, superficial, miscellaneous education, is either likely to study the literature of any great Continental country, or would be much profited by it, if compelled to undertake the task. As a rule, Englishwomen know nothing of foreign litera
* Or American. (Ed.
ture, except a few poets. Perhaps this may be as well. They might not be happier or wiser if they were really to dive into literatures which are based on ideas unknown in England, which are permeated with the genius of Romanism, and affected with the license in morals which the Continent thinks artistically right. But, if this is so, the advantage of their being able to make an acquaintance with foreign literature must be very small. We should like parents to ask themselves what are the books in foreign languages which they are anxious their daughters should know thoroughly, and enter into. The list would be surprisingly small. Schiller is about the only German, or perhaps a few writers of harmless tales might be added. It is a good thing in its way to read Joan of Arc in the original, but it is not going very far in German literature; and the thoughts that Germany has contributed to the world are not to be learnt in this way. — London Saturday Review. • The art of conversing fluently in a language which you do not understand, is a very valuable one to the tourist, - quite as valuable as that of cooking eggs; and having had as much experience in the one as the other, I may venture to give the reader a few rules to be observed, by attention to which this art may be easily acquired. First of all, do not carry a grammar; or, if you do, never look at it: for, in order to speak the language in a manner to be understood, utter ignorance of its grammar is a primary essential. Secondly, never attempt to ask for anything in the form of a sentence given for the purpose in any of the “ Familiar Conversation” books; and, as a general rule, avoid, as far as possible, the use of any sentences whatever. Thus, suppose the subject to be eggs: the grammatical tourist looks to his “ Conversations Lexicon” under that head, and finds a sentence such as this, “ Landlord, if your fowls are in a flourishing condition, I shall be supremely obliged, if you will do me the very great favor of preparing a few recently-deposited eggs for my supper.” He reads this from the book, pronouncing every word most incorrectly, and laying the greatest emphasis on the adverbs and prepositions; and the poor host is in a state of desolation. The practical traveller never attempts to speak any complimentary phrases, but always looks his compliments, shakes hands, smiles, nods, etc.; sits down to the table, opens his mouth points down