Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

confident, than themselves; and not to find fault with any one who truly desires and aims at the welfare of a large band whom he may seek to encourage, if not to provoke, to love and good works.

On the other hand, it is trusted that those for whom these pages were written, will in some way profit by a few of the thoughts and suggestions contained therein. Directed by an abler and more experienced hand, they would have winged their way more swiftly and more home to the mark, than is likely to be now the case. Yet, if any benefit accrues to the wilful, or the depressed; or if a better champion is drawn forth to their succour, — the present Essay will not have failed in its end.

It has been long decided by grammarians that the masculine gender is more worthy than the feminine. If, in the present volume, advantage has been taken of this ungallant dogma, it is not from any disrespect to the female teachers of our schools, or by way of excepting them from its discussions, but merely to avoid the constant repetition of the same words.

SCHOOLMASTER'S DIFFICULTIES,

ABROAD AND AT HOME.

CHAPTER I.

DIFFICULTIES IN REGARD TO HIS CALLING.

THERE was a time, and that not so many years ago, when no such difficulty was felt. With the exception of a few excellent institutions in the metropolis and in other places, where a noble-minded person or two were found toiling to raise the intellectual and moral standard of the poor, the work of education, for a century and a half after its activerevival, was neglected and stunted by many of its nominal supporters, until, in later and worse years, it became, in too many cases, manifestly a delusion and a snare. It was then, unhappily, but too easy to define the calling of the schoolmaster, to settle his position, to prognosticate the benefits. When the office was thrust upon some worthless parish-clerk, brokendown mechanic, or day-labourer, upon some crippled

B

nurse, sem pstress, or laundress, perhaps, merely to keep them from the workhouse; when these victims of their employers' selfish indifference, unfit alike both in body and mind for their charge, were themselves barely able to read and write; when their chief employment consisted in certain flourishes of a cane or fool's-cap, to vary the monotony of the hornbook or “ Reading-made-easy," and in watching over the little urchins daily for six hours, that they might not roam the streets, or set themselves on fire: then, truly, the teachers, the scholars, the apparatus, the discipline, the expectations, the results, were all readily described.* But the case is very different

* In his report on the state of parochial education in the diocese of Salisbury, for 1840, Dr. Feild informs us, he was honestly told by one dame, when questioned about her school, " It is but little they pays me, and it is but little I teaches them.” Her confession might, no doubt, as late as that year, have been adopted by very many teachers of parochial schools - and by a few, even now, it could be as honestly made. Oberlin's predecessor at Ban de la Roche, when introduced to one of their best schools, was shown a miserable room, where a number of wild and noisy children were crowded together, whose uproar prevented their hearing when the good Pastor spoke to them. The master - a withered old man — lay on a little bed in one corner. “And what do you teach the children ?” asked the Pastor. “Nothing, sir," was the reply. “Nothing! why, how is that?” “Because I know nothing myself.” “Why, then, have they made you the schoolmaster?” “Why," replied the old man, “I have been taking care of the Waldbach pigs for a great many years, and when I grew too old to do that, they sent me here to take care of their children.” In our own country, it is no uncommon phenomenon to find many more solicitous about the styes and stuffing of their

« НазадПродовжити »