Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Throughout the country, the number and salaries of lady teachers are constantly increasing. We also see them filling more responsible positions than formerly. The reason is they are qualifying themselves better and people are awakening to the fact that women earn their wages as well as men. We have a few cities and one state of which we may justly be proud. By acting upon their dictates of justice, they have placed before the world models well worthy of being copied. In this, as in other things, reform will not be immediate, but must come after years

of earnest toil. We cannot see that the ballot is necessary to woman before this matter will be righted. We think it would be a necessary accompaniment of the ballot; but independent of this, the time must come when woman will receive the same wages as man for the same work, and everywhere be paid according as she does. We who teach now may not live to reap the benefits of the much wished for day; but our successors will.

We must not expect to be victorious without labor-combined labor; for only by the united workings of millions of heat-rays are the mists and fogs that surround the earth dispersed and we enabled thereby to enjcy pure, bright sunshine. Let us strive to offer to the public only educated labor and expect therefor a price which it should command, no matter at whose demand. Let us bear in mind that we hold the balance in our hands, and must decide which side shall fall and which shall rise. May we all appreciate the necessity of commencing ourselves, the much needed reform, and as an emblem of success adopt as our motto, “Work;" remembering

We must not expect to be reapers

And gather tho ripe, gold ears,
Unless we have first been sowers

And watered the furrows with tears.
It is not just as we take it,

This mystical life of ours,
The field will yield as we make it

A harvest of thorns or of flowers."

[ocr errors]

MENTAL FACULTIES NEGLECTED IN THE SCHOOL ROOM,

. BY PROF. T. C. CHAMBERLIN, WHITEWATER.

(Paper read before the State Teachers' Association, July 10, 1872.) To get, to keep, to use, are the three great intellectual processes of the mind. Through the first we get fundamental facts; through the second we get fundamental principles. I am not now asserting anything of the exact metaphysical nature of either. I am only asserting the practical fact for a practical pnrpose. The keeping processes are also of two general sorts, wben considered practically; the first wherein the ideas lie slumbering in the mind, disordered, disocnnected, a confused mass, not easily roused into consciousness, and when roused are apt to be our worst enemies, from their own suicidal confusion, as it was in the host of the Midianites, when Gideon awoke them by the crash of pitchers and the blast of trumpets, and set every man's sword against his fellows; the second, wherein our ideas sleep under arms, in battle

order, ready at the least signal to spring into orderly array and rush to the conflict. The one is the tar-bucket memory; whatever falls into it sticks, and sticks there just as it fell. The other is the orderly, systematic, book-keeper of the mind. The using processes are likewise of two kinds: 1st, the ideas that we have may be wrought upon to give us new ideas; 2d, the ideas we have may be used to guide us in action.

Now I am not attempting herein to promulgate a system of mental philosophy. I am simply trying to sketch a simple and practical outline for our present purposes, and I desire especially to avoid controverted points and metaphysical technicalities. Our president, when requesting me to present this subject, limited me to twenty minutes, expressing the hope that I would“ boil it down.” Now metaphysical terms are the most volatile part of the subject. O that some genius of the nineteenth century would so boil down the whole subject of metaphysics that all its vague terms would be evaporated and nothing left but the solid truths of the science.

What are we doing and what are we not doing in the school-room for the culture of these several processes and their special applications and activities? Let us examine in detail: The six senses are the great getters of understanding. I say six, not because there are only six, but because the others are less important. Through sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and the muscular sense, we obtain the mass of crude material out of which our thoughts and feelings are elaborated. It is absolutely necessary to success, then, t'uat these fact-gatherers should furnish us an abundance of good, sound, reliable material. We should, then, give them careful and skillful training that their action may be accurate, exact, and trustworthy. Do we do it?

Let us enter still more into detail. Discrimination of color enters into a large number of the practical affairs of life-a far larger number than the casual observer imagines. To perceive and judge of color readily and accurately is absolutely essential in certain important occupations. Yet how much attention is given to it in the schoolroom? In what percentage of the schools of the State is it taught at all in any form? I choose to present this first because its nature and applications are striking and manifest, and because it has, perhaps, received more direct attention than any other of the so-called perceptive faculties. Prof. Sheldon and others have made it prominent, yet how inadequate is our culture and the culture we are giving? How many of us or our pupils can distinguish crimson, magenta, and solferino, or lilac and lavender--the colors, I mean, not the names? How many can skillfully harmonize colors in costume, furniture or flower-garden? How many detect the manufacturer's cheat? How many discern, in the fading grain, between drouth, disease, and insect? It should be distinctly borne in mind that here, as elsewhere, I am pleading, not for knowledge, but for ability. Not that we ought to burden and hamper our minds with a mass of names and technicalities concerning hues and tints and shades, but that we are to sharpen our wits, that when we have occasion, we may see and know.

Perception and judgment of luster is an important activity of the mind, and yet it is one that is almost utterly ignored in the schoolroom. A large portion of those discernments which we attribute to color are in reality due to luster. We distinguish silks and other fabrics rather by luster than by color. We discern metallic and mineral substances largely by it. Side by side with color, it demands attention. Our minds are almost continually called into activity in the discrimination of extension, in its various forms and modifications, under such terms as length, breadth, thickness, heighth, depth, dimension, distance, size, magnitude, capacity; terms more or less synonymous. Wo judge of these not alone by the eye but by the muscular and tactual senses; and in judging by the eye, we use it, not simply as an optical, but also as a muscular organ. But just here, I prefer, for convenience, to speak only of eye culture, without technical distinctions.

It would be superfluous to dwell upon the practical value of ability to discriminate tension. It is unnecessary to call attention to the large place it holds in the industrial activities, when it is remembered that we do not make an intelligent motion in which it is not involved either as an estimate by the eye or otherwise. This constant activity gives it, indeed, a desultory and uncertain culture. For this the school-room should substitute accurate, thorough, sistematic training. It may be urged that we will gain this in the experiences of life, whether it is taught in the school-room or not. So would we gain, and in the same slovenly manner, language, geography and mathematics. The objection is based upon false grounds. The school is not a supplementary but a preparatory institution. It is not to give a varnishing and veneering foreign to the experiences of life, which those experiences rub off, but it is to give a solid basis for those experiences, one which their friction vill polish not mar. Yet this process of the mind, constant and important as it is, is sadly neglected in our average schools. In but few does it receive any separate, special attention. Even where it is involved in the common branches it is often altogether ignored.

In geography, where extension forms an essential feature, a few facts indeed are learned, but in general these are mere acts of the memory; the judgement is not aroused, the facts are forgotten and the labor wasted. In the so-called compound numbers, we compel our children to recite to us of inches, feet, miles, acres, quarts, gallons, bushels, degrees, seconds and minutes, but we do not compel them to tell us or rather to show us, what these are, to show us what power of discernment and judgement they have in respect to them. I think I do not overstate the facts when I assert that a considerable per centage of our school children cannot distinguish in respect to a given article, presented to them, whether it is a quart measure or a pint measure; or à given line, whether it is one rod or two rods in length; or a given piece of land, whether it is three acres or five acres; or a given weight, whether it is one pound or one-half pound; or a given roof, whether it slants 60 or 160 degrees. How many Wisconsin girls, from anything learned in the school-room, can give any trustworthy judgment of the width of calico or muslin? How many Wisconsin boys, from anything learned in the school-room, can measure out to a horse six quarts of oats, in a tin pan? I do not insist that we should turn aside from the mathematics to teach this, but it should have its place and receive the attention its importance demands.

Discrimination of direction and position or locality are closely related to the preceding, and so much of what has just been said applies here that I will pass them with the mere mention.

Judgment of form is an important activity of the mind. A member of the neglected list, it is yet quite largely involved in one ordinary studies, lying as it does at the basis of reading, writing and drawing. And the marked superiority of the late systems of penmanship is a bright example of the utility of giving close attention to the discrimination of form, dimension and distance. One of the great obstacles that teachers of drawing and penmanship constantly meet with, is want of accurate discriminating judgment in these respects. But beyond these there is a large field for its culture.

I will let the architecture of our common school houses, external and internal, preach you a sermon on this point. It is more eloquent than I can be. All these are processes of the mind acting through the eye, through one of the six great gateways by which it holds communication with the external world. Whether these processes are metaphysically distinct, is not a question that concerns us here; they are so, practically, as experiments show.

Connected with the ear are several activities of the mind, practically and as is believed, physiologically, distinct. To distinguish quality, volume and pitch of sound are so far distinct that ability to do one may exist without corresponding ability to do the others. I cannot say that these arc altogether neglected powers, for reading and music receive more or less attention in all our schools. I will not do more than

urge more attention and that that attention be more specific, be radical. Instead of giving incidental and desultory training, introduce separate and special exercises to seoure delicacy of discrimination as to quality, volume, pitch, and the less elementary facts of harmony, rhythm, distance and direction.

Whatever attention has been given to muscular sense has been unwittingly done, with rare exceptions. Even its presence in the sisterhood of senses has been but vaguely recognized. Yet it is in a certain sense the most fundamental, the most essential of all our senses, since it gives us the essential ideas of matter, and it modifies in an important respect the impressions received through others. All our movements are guided by its intelligent, though unrecognized actions. The skillful pianist is piloted through those wonderfully complex and rapid movements not by the eye nor by, the touch, but by the muscular sense. The practical penman relies almost wholly upon its guidance. The chief exercise it has received in the school-room has been given in connection with penmanship, in which it forms an essential element, and the most successful teachers in this department introduce the most special exercises for its culture without perhaps recognizing their specific application to this sense; and still greater specialization will, I opine, lead to still better results. Substitute discrimination of presure and re. sistance for color and luster, and what has been said under eye culture will in general be applicable to the culture of the muscular sense.

The culture of the sense of touch is almost utterly ignored in the school-room. It is, forsooth, absolutely necessary that our pupils should know everything in the text-books, from the parietals to the plantar arch, from the capital of Zanzibar to the periphrastic conjugation; but it is not a matter worthy of our attention that their fingers are so dull and senseless that they cannot distinguish a cotton fabric from a linen one, a silken from a woolen, a print from a poplin, the good from the poor. Fellow teachers, this should not be so.. Not that we should do less of the one, but more of the other. The senses of taste and smell are also entirely neglected. How far it is desirable to give attention to these may be questioned, but I would not entirely set them aside.

These, then, together with the internal senses, the intuitions, upon which I shall not dwell because of their peculiar nature and of the controversy that still attaches to them, are the means through which the mind obtains its elementary material, its crude pabulum. It must retain, digest and utilize it.

The retentive process, the memory, can scarcely be said to be a neglected department of the mind. It has received more attention in the mass of schools than all other departments combined. We have been accustomed to treat the mind as we do turkeys just before Thanksgiving, under the impression that the more food we force down the mental esophagus, the better the result. We forget that it is the food digested and not the food engorged that is the measure of utility. We forget that at the best the stuffing process but increases the amount of adipose tissue and not of muscle and nerve. In either case, turkey or mind, the process is a prelude to decapitation.

The digestive processes of the mind are both neglected and trammelled. Our characteristic headlong haste, as Americans, aliows no time for reflection. We bolt our mental food as we do our physical, with no thought or care, or provision for subsequent action. And when we are compelled to take the second thought, when we are compelled to compare, to analyze, to combine, to reason, to generalize, to classify, we so stimulate the process and hasten the result that our conclusions are full of fallacies, and pernicious habits are engendered. We jump at conclusions, and Sam Patch leaps they are. We do not stop to bridge the chasm with consecutive thought or a logical chain.

I would that time would allow me to develope this portion of my theme to the extent demanded by its superior importance. But I must use the very haste I denounce. A few brief particulars: Comparison lies at the very foundation of science, and is involved more or less obscurely in all the studies of the curriculum, but it does not seem to be practically recognized as an important power of the mind. Very few, if any exercises are introduced for the purpose of training it to exact and precise action. This special training is demanded, for the incidental action called forth by the various studies is so irregular, so partial and confused, so often in utter violation of the laws of comparison and the habits formed so bad, that its action in most minds is extremely fallacious. Its functions are so nearly universal and fundamental, that its demands cannot be ignored without disaster. Let it have appropriate specific drill. I ought not to say that the power to analyze stands among thé

neglected faculties. Under the name of analysis, much drill is given in grammatical and mathematical studies, and much of it is well given; but still much of it is mere analysis in form and not in fact. Analytical formulas are servilely followed without accompanying analytical action of the mind. In the natural sciences, many of our text-books, to say nothing of our teaching, show a deplorable" want of keen, sharp, penetrating analysis.

The word “synthesize” has become obsolete. This should be a lecture in itself to us as educators. The rarity of unusual thought-combinations in the school room and the dread of composition add their voice to the same utterance. Yet go outside the school room and synthesis is a characteristic of the age. The mechanical combinations, the inventions of the present century are more numerous and more fertile

2-[VOL. II.--No. 8.]

« НазадПродовжити »