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“No, no; what makes your body strong?"
“Man," cries the child confidently, without ever thinking of the husbands of strong-minded women. " Very well,” we say;
now name an animal that lives with man." " A woman!”
After an exercise of ingenuity sufficient to bring on an attack of brain fever, we get around the woman and reach a more interesting subject -the horse.
“How can a horse move?” we ask, expecting to hear of walking, trotting, pacing, swimming, galloping, racking and cantering. The answer is as true as beautiful, and as beautiful as true:
“On his legs!”
From the little ones!” and the subject of incubation is brought to an awkward conclusion.
An exercise in school without a blunder is open to suspicions; it is unnatural; it is humbug. The story of the boy who believed in Louis Napoleon because the boy who believed in the Catholic Church was absent, is old, so we shall not tell it. But in a class for the study of German, we remember an incident very much to the point. The names were arranged alphabetically and their owners called upon to recite invariably in order. To construe one's owa sentence in each exercise became an easy task, and the unsuspecting professor was lavish in his commendations. At length, a student was absent from the class, the absence was overlooked by the others, the wheels of the recitation had slipped a cog, and the jar of the machine was tremerdous. “So, so," cried the professor, placing his forefinger along his nose, “young shintlemen, I schmells a rat!”
The mistakes of pupils do not prove inefficiency in the teacher. Better try, and get terms misplaced than not try at all. Could we put mind into a lathe, then we might turn out jobs of work of unfailing uniformity. But mind is unreliable-immature minds, very unreliable. And why, of all professions, should absolute perfection be demanded in the work of a teacher.
We teach primary children more than Socrates knew, and our grammar pupils forget more than Plato ever learned; yet, if the little ones fail in a point of international law, or political economy, or the philosophy of history, all the little curs of the press, and the big growlers of the pulpit, are barking at our heels. What has the world done for the schoolmaster that he should be called upon to give to the human mind what Deity himself refused to impart? To condemn the teacher for unavoidable errors in his pupils, is as unreasonable as it would be to denounce Christianity for the falsehood and immorality in the world which it is the constant aim of Christianity to remove. Religion does much, but it cannot do everything. Teaching does much, but it cannot do everything.
Let correct answers live; let wrong answers turn suicides and kill off and correct themselves, and when you are growing irritable over the mistakes of some blundering youth, put yourself in his place.
A MODEL PRIMARY SCHOOL.
FROM A REPORT OF HON. J. D. PHILBRICK, BOSTON.
Go with me into a school kept by one of these meritorious teachers. Observe the condition of the room—its neatness order, cleanliness; look into the happy faces of the pupils, reflecting the intelligence and love beaming from the countenance of their teacher. They have evidently come from homes of extreme poverty; but notice their tidiness, and especially the good condition of their heads and hands; and see their position in their seats-neither stiff and restrained, nor careless lounging, but easy and natural. The temperature, you will perceive, is what it should be; and the atmosphere uncommonly wholesome for a schoolroom-no roasting by stoves or shivering in chilling drafts of air. What skill and care and patience, on the part of the teacher, have been employed to produce this state of things! Now witness the operations going on. The windows are opened more or less, according to the weather. The bell is struck, and the pupils are brought to their feet; they perform some brisk physical exercises with the hands and arms, or march to music, or take a lively vocal drill according to Professor Munrce's instructions. In five minutes the scene changes; the windows are closed, half the pupils take their slates with simultaneous movement, place them in position, and proceed to print, draw, or write exactly what has been indicated and illustrated to them as a copy. The rest stand, ranged soldier-like, in a compact line, with book in hand, and take their reading-lesson. No one is listless or inattentive. Sometimes they read in turn, and sometimes they are called promiscuously, or they are permitted to volunteer; or the teacher reads a sentence or two, and the whole class read in concert after her; or they are allowed to read a pa ragraph silently. Now a hard word is spelled by sounds; then there is thrown in a little drill on inflection or emphasis. Many judicious questions are asked about the meaning of what is read, and all useful illustrations and explanations are given with such vivacity and clearness that they are sure to be comprehended by every pupil and remembered. The time for the lesson quickly glides away, every pupil wishing it would last longer. A stroke upon the bell brings the whole school to position in their seats; the slates are examined and returned to their places; a general exercise on the tablets, or an object lesson, follows. If the latter, perhaps it is in colors, the teacher having prepared for this purpose little square cards worked with bright-hued worsted, or the children have brought bits of ribbon or colored paper or water-color paints—very likely some one has brought a glass prism to show the colors of the rainbow. A verse or two of poetry on the rainbow is repeated. Now comes the music. A little girl takes the platform, and with pointer in hand, conducts the exercise on Mason's staff. She asks about the staff and notes and bars and clefs. They sing the scale by letters, numbers and syllables; and close with a sweet song. They are next exercised in numbers, not in mere rotation of table, but by combination with visible objects—the ball-frame and marks on the black-board-writing figures on the slates being interspersed with oral instruction. And thus goes on the whole session. You would gladly remain the whole day, such is the order, harmony and cheerfulness of the school. You see that the children are both pleased and instructed, that, they are wisely cared for in all respects. Neither body, mind nor heart is neglected. The teacher is happy. She is happy because she is successful, because her heart is in her work. She has the right disposition, and this qualification multiplies tonfold all others.
This is no fancy sketch, nor is it a flattering picture of some single school; it is only an imperfect outline of what may be seen daily in not a few schools. I say to myself, all honor to the admirable teachers who have made them such!
THE SCHOOL-ROOM. It is very pleasant to go through many of our modern school-rooms and notice the care which has been taken to make everything comfortable and cheerful. The light has been so arranged that the eye is neither dazzled by glare or wearied by g'oom; ventilation has been secured in proper kind and degree, so that headache cannot often be complained of there; the desks are adapted in height to the size of the sitter, and the chairs have comfortable backs; pictures are on the walls, an attractive library is accessible, and the polished brass and glass, in the case of
apparatus, add to tre general effect. Would that all school-rooms were comfortable and cheerful! Yet where they are not, much can be done to improve them, and this with but little expense. Even if hard benches and inconvenient desks are the furniture of four bare walls, there may be something done to make the place seem comfortable and cheerful, if actual improvement is impossible.
Let us suppose the worst case possible, I mean, now-a-days, and try and improve it.
1st. Arrange the desks and seats in some way, so that each pupil can find support for his back and rest for his feet. It need hardly be supposed that this is impossible.
20. “ Tinker” the window-frames, so as to be able to lower the upper sash a few inches. Get calico curtains, if there are no blinds; they will cost about ten cents each.
3d. Cover all holes and ink-spots in the wall with white paper, neatly pasted on; but cover up no cirt which can be washed off. Let the floor be clean and the windo.rs clear,
4th. Tack engravings on the walls, the best you can find; wood-cuts, from newspapers, are better than nothing. Inland boys like ships and steamers, and sea-scenes generally, while boys who live near the coast prefer hunting scenes, and rocks and woods. Maps of the country, the state, the county, town, ward and block are desirable.
5th. On the ceiling, draw neatly-in charcoal, if you can do ro better—the solar system. Make the sun in red chalk; give the planets their relative size and orbits; let a bushy, red-tailed comet enliven the sketch. On the side wall draw a long, black line, five and a half yards long, to represent a rod; divide the line into yards, one of the yards into feet, and one of the feet into inches. In various spaces, otherwise unoccupied, draw, distinctly, a square yard, a square foot, a cubic foot, an equilateral triangle, and other similar outlines. Let the walls be covered with instruction and amusement for the eye. At first, these figures will attract attention from studies; but in a few days the novelty will have worn off, and although they may attract, they will not distract.
What a change comes over the dreary old room! What a change over the scholars !
There are many, little matters which affect the success of a teacher's daily duties. Is the black-board warped, and cracked, and scratched ? Take it down, screw a
"cleet" on the back, putty up the crack, and paint it black again. There is no expenditure here of anything but a little labor, except for the paint, and that may be made trifling if a few cents' worth of lampblack, a little camphene, a flannel rag and ingenuity are used. Perhaps the chalk is " scratchy." 'Buy some crayons, if
you can; if not, make them. Your boys will help you; and, in a few hours, at an expense of half a dollar, you can make enough to last for a whole term, and the improvement will pay you for your trouble. Have a ledge on the bottom of the black-board, to catch the falling chalk-dust, and to hold " the cleaner.” The cleaner may be a stick two inches square and six long, wrapped around with canton flannel.Root's “ School Amusements.”
PRIMARY LESSONS IN BOTANY.
BY J. A. SEWALL, IN THE CHICAGO SCTICOLMASTER. I would introduce the study of botany to a class of pupils in this way: Taking a simple plant in my hand—a year-old apple-tree would be a good specimen—and presenting it before the class, ask:
Teacher.-" What is this?"
Pupils.—“A stick; a switch; a little tree; a plant.” (I would endeavor to bring out the latter answer, plant.)
T.-“ What is this?” (pointing to the root.)
of?" P.-"Root, stem and leaves.". T.-" How does the root differ from the stem?' P.-“The root grows under ground and the stem above ground.”
T.—“Do roots sometimes grow above the ground? The roots of the corn are above the surface. Have you seen them?”
T._"Do stems grow under ground sometimes?" Here speak of plants that grow under ground, such as the potato, etc.
T.—“Do you see any joints on this root? Are there any leaves on the root?" Here call attention to the place of the leaves. Strip off some of the leaves and then show the place on the stem where the leaves grew, and compare the stem thus stripped of leaves, with the root, and show that the stem grows by a regular succession of joints, while the root has no joints, no leaves, and no place for leaves.
The characteristics of leaves, as differing from root and stem, are easily made.
The plant is a type of the vegetable world, and the plant consists of root, stem and leaves. The root, the stem, the leaf, may each assume a great variety of forms.