« הקודםהמשך »
the middle of it, and exclaims, " Eggs," and not another syllable till assured that that one is understood. Instead of reading from the “ Conversations Lexicon " such a sentence as “ Being rather dys. peptic, and occasionally subject to flatulency, I find it indispensable to my comfort to avoid eating hard-boiled eggs : will you, therefore, be so kind as to boil my eggs no more than is necessary to render them pulpy ?” he points to the eggs, and exclaims, “Soft.” If the subject be politics, instead of saying, “In the present aspect of European affairs there is reason to believe that rupture of diplomatic relations, or even actual hostilities between France and Austria is imminent,” he holds up his right fist, and says, “ France;” then his left, and says, “ Austria ; " then he thumps them together and says, “fight to-morrow.” If you can thus divest your mind entirely of all prejudices concerning number, gender, case, tense, person, mood, and all sentimentalism relative to agreement with nominatives, using none but the words necessary for expressing the main ideas, omitting all the connecting words, and those which merely express the relations of words, and taking care that each idea, before it is expressed, shall be mentally clear and definite, with a sharp outline and no metaphorical blurr or shading, you may learn to converse intelligibly in any European language in the course of two or three weeks.
Many highly educated persons may have some difficulty in finding clear and definite ideas, before expressing them; for, having been educated on the false principle of attaching ideas to words, instead of words to ideas, their intellects are apt to run in a phraseological groove: words are necessary to the development of their ideas, and their thoughts are tuned to the jingle of a sentence.
To such people a definite idea, standing out clearly before the mind in its simple nakedness, has existed only in the forgotten experiences of childhood; and, if many of their most cherished notions were thus stripped of the thickly padded clothing of words in which alone they have ever seen them. the proprietors might be shocked at their deformity. To many persons, therefore, the speaking of a language before being able to make it into sentences will be a valuable corrective exercise in unchaining the mind from the slavish trammels of phraseological despotism. — Williams, Through Norway with a Knapsack.
Mr. CôASE, of Watertown, in the chair.
The discussion was then opened by the Chairman. The question read as follows: What is the best method of teaching Geography ? Mr. Cuase said that . he would only state some of the inquiries which should be met in discussing this
question. First, should we teach it to the older or the younger scholars, or both ? Second, should it be taught orally, or with the book? Third, if with a book, what book should be used ? Fourth, should we begin at home, by teaching cbildren about those objects within their view; or should we commence, as is more generally done, by asking them general questions about the earth's surface? Fifth, should we teach them Physical Geography; and, if so, should it be taught separately, or in connection with other parts of the subject ?
Shall we, as is the common practice, require scholars to commit to memory a certain number of facts about each separate State of New England; or can those facts be generalized in such a manner as to be more thoroughly assimilated, and more easily remembered ? Mr. Chase quoted a remark of the Boston School Committee, that there was no really good text-book upon Geography. He (Mr. Chase) thought that one might be made, very different from most now in use, which would better accomplish the end sought. He knew of one that partially realized bis idea. Its chief fault was, that it began some six thousand years 100 far back. He did not believe in treating, in such a book, of periods anterior to the creation of man. He thought Introductory Geographies, were in general, much better than the larger ones. In the latter, a scholar is questioned upon the climate, soil, productions, etc. of each State in detail, beginning with Maine. It will generally be found that, by the time he has gone as far as the Western States, he has for. gotten all about Maine. Now cannot these facts be taught in such manner as to form, in the scholar's mind, a continuous whole, of which he will be in no danger of forgetting the parts? States and countries should be constantly compared with each other, the differences between them pointed out, and the reasons for these differences explained. They should be told why it is that Massachusetts has more commerce than Connecticut, and more manufactures than Vermont. They should also sometimes be told the facts, and left to find the reasons themselves. He would teach Physical Geography much after the plan pursued in Guyot's Earth and Man. He would cluster the great facts, and let the lesser ones assume their natural place about them. Mr. Chase, of Malden, was sorry to hear the last gentleman speak favorably of those nuisances, — Primary Geographies. For his part, he heartily wished they were all used to kindle the school fire. He studied Geography in the oldfashioned way, and was always deeply interested. He did not, however, begin the study till after he knew something of Philosophy and Botany. . He could therefore pursue it understandingly. He was totally opposed to teaching it to very young children. As to attaining to any degree of thoroughness, he had not, nor had any one else. It was wholly impossible, unless we confine our attention to some one place. Primary scholars should not use books at all. He would have charts hung about the school-room, and then have the teacher do the work. Older ones will readily learn from the book, provided their interest is previously excited.
Mr. Jamesox, of Boston, said that everything that the teacher hears outside of the school-room which bears upon the subject should be brought forward, and made available to the scholars in the next recitation. He did not agree with the * last speaker. He thought we knew as much of Geography as of other branches We may, however, have the knowledge ourselves, and be unable to communicate it to our scholars. This is likewise so in all other branches. The teacher must possess tact and skill as well as information. He agreed with the Chairman, that scholars should be taught the causes of geographical phenomena. They should also be taught the comparative size of different States and countries, so that, by comparing each new State with one whose size they appreciated, they would have a clear idea upon the subject. Mr. Jameson did not sympathize with the outcry against present methods of teaching Geography. He thought it was, in general, well taught.
Mr. Marston, of Cambridge, thought that we had now some excellent textbooks. He thought that children could learn as readily and as thoroughly from Warren's Geography as from most teachers. He considered, however, that eight years of age was sufficiently early for a child to begin the study: Definitions must be learned as a basis, and they were more readily learned and more easily retained in youth. Comparative Geography, however, he thought, could not be comprehender then, and should therefore be deferred till later.
Mr. DANIELL, of Dorchester, remarked that the idea evolved from the discussion thus far was simply, that we should not rely too much on text-books. Formerly a large amount of time was spent in teaching children the latitude and longitude of different localities. He thought time thus spent wholly wasted, and the knowledge gained of no value. Mr. DANIELL then illustrated, by an incidentin bis own experience, how casual circumstances may often be used to illustrate a principle. Wbile holding in his hand a globe from which he was teaching his scholars Geography, a ray of sunshine fell upon it. He immediately made use of the occurrence to explain the alternation of day and night. He thought a great deal might be accomplished in this way.
Mr. Jones, of Roxbury, said that we expected our scholars to know more than ourselves. He learned Geography in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in short ways. Young scholars should not be taught definitions. Of what use are definitions till a scholar can understand them? They should be taught only
what they can see and comprehend. He thought that, on an average, six months were wasted by scholars in learning definitions which were of no use..
Mr. DANIELL, of Milton, was much pleased with the remarks of the Chairman, in favor of teaching Geography comparatively. In teaching the productions of the different States, for instance, as we take up the different States, the question should be, wbat is produced here that is not in the one last studied; and why does it grow here, and not there? By following this plan, the scholars soon begin to perceive the relation between the physical features of a State, and its productions. He thought too much time was ordinarily spent in accumulating a mass of isolated facts, and too little in investigating principles and causes. Mr. Daniell stated that he recently visited a school, where, in the master's room, the teaching had been for a whole winter entirely oral; and was astonished at the thorough understanding of the subject wbich was displayed by the boys. They were told the cargo of a ressel, and required to ascertain, from that, from what port she came. They were then questioned very closely upon the route she must have sailed, and the cause of each variation from a direct line. All of which they answered with surprising readiness and accuracy, displaying a very thorough knowledge of both Physical and Political Geography. The teacher stated, that in four weeks from that time he should consider them sufficiently taught in the subject of Geography. He also stated that they had not recited a single lesson during the whole winter. Mr. Daniell thought that the true way of teaching Geography. Such investigations as these created an intense interest among the scholars, while the mere memorizing of facts and localities was dry and uninteresting, besides being for the most part valueless.
Mr. Jones, of Roxbury, wished to ask the last speaker of what possible use it was to know whether a vessel in coming to Boston went this way or that way? He once attended school wbere the teacher spent much time in explaining why one of two distant lakes was salter than the other. Now of what benefit was such knowledge ? He thought the time thus spent wasted. Much time was often consumed in making scholars familiar with the direction of currents in the ocean. To most of them such information was wholly useless. Their attention should be confined to matters of practical value.
Mr. DANIELL replied, that he would answer the gentleman's question by asking another. Of what use is it, to one not intending to be a sailor, to know that there is an ocean? What possible good can it do a scholar, who does not mean to travel, to know that there is such a country as Europe; or such a city as London or Paris? In short, what was the use in koowing anything except how to preserve our existence? Is nothing to be learned for the sake of the knowledge? Are the cultivation of the mind, and the enlargement of our sphere of observation, unworthy objects? He thought the idea, that nothing should be learned which did not benefit the scholar in a material way, a very pernicious one.
Mr. KIMBALL, of Boston (Boylston School), thought that too much time was often spent by the teacher in talking. He did not believe in lecturing. The scholars should be required to do the work mainly themselves.
Geo. K. DANIELL, JR., Secretary.
Rev. B. G. Northrop. We congratulate the friends of education in Connecticut upon the accession of a gentleman to their number who has proved himself to be one of the most useful laborers in the cause of popular education in this country.
Mr. Northrop has been chosen Secretary of the Board of Education in Connecticut, and accepts the appointment, leaving the position which he has held the past eleven years, as Agent of the Massachusetts Board of Education, vacant.
It is safe to assert that no public officer of the State has performed so great an amount of labor for the Commonwealth in proportion to his compensation. His acknowledged ability, his experience in teaching, his untiring zeal and industry, extensive acquaintance with teachers and friends of education in every section of the country, combine to make him eminently successful in bis new field of labor.
He is a native of Connecticut, a graduate of Yale College, and will be cordially welcomed and supported by the leading men of a State once celebrated as in advance of the world in common-school education; and we doubt not that under the new stimulus that Mr. Northrop will give to the cause, she will regain her former proud position, unless the other States make continual advance. The best wishes of Massachusetts educators will attend him.
The subject of discussion at all the recent meetings of the Boston Social Science Association has been one of special interest to our readers, for it has been our schools, their deficiencies and their improvement; and we print in our present issue the excellent paper which was read at the first of the series. While too much can hardly be said in favor of those meetings where teachers come together to compare notes, and assist each other by an interchange of opinion, meetings which produce excellent fruit, as our readers have good opportunity to know; yet il must be noted that the danger of such meetings is that school matters should be looked at from too purely a professional point of view, and that the habits of thought of the speakers should be too nearly alike. It is well. Therefore, that the subject of schools should be taken up by such bodies as the Social Science Associations; bodies formed for the discussion of all subjects connected with the well-being and progress of society, and their mutual relations and bearings; and where the topic of education will be looked at, not only from the teachers', but from the parents' and from the citizens' point of view. Teachers cannot afford to be ignorant of what their fellow-citizens think of their schools ; nor can teaching ever be successful unless it be carefully adjusted to the wants of the times, and the condition of the society to which it is endeavoring to minister.
A High School Principal writes as follows: “ What shall be done? The maximum of time spent daily at school is three hundred and sixty minutes.