« НазадПродовжити »
thought and feelings produced by study, and as very few are born with superior talents of this kind, practice appears to be the only medium through which this desirable end may be attained. Many a bright thought lies hidden in the mines of ignorance, which, if brought before the world, would make it wiser and better for having been written. Composition digs deep into this mine of thought; brings to view the otherwise baried treasure, separates the dross from the pure ore, refines and elevates the nature, and often acts upon the mind as an anodyne, soothing into tranquility the troubled spirit. “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, that withholdeth, yet tendeth to poverty." This beautifully illustrates the subject. If a child is taught early to note its thoughts, with the increase of years, will come increase of power in this respect, and, in whatever position in society it may be placed, this acquirement will be highly important. Many individuals can write fluently, yet can not converse with ease, such, if deprived of this method of conveying thought would remain mere ciphers in existence.
As soon as & scholar can write, he can think, think clearly, too, upon all subjects within the limits of his comprehension. If these thoughts are written upon the slate or paper, an impression is made, other objects are dwelt upon with greater interest, keeping in view the presenting their impress in a more tangible form, and the variety of subjects that will present themselves, keep alive the interest thus awakened. I have tried the plan in my school the past term, and find that it can be successfully carried oat. My school numbered forty scholars, and every one of them wrote a composition daily. I found the children willing and prompt when the arrangement was thoroughly understoood.
An ample field for ingenious action is here laid before the teacher, and a knowledge of its weighty importance upon the fature, will awaken attention to the matter.
E. B. LOWBER.
ALTHOUGH much has been said and written respecting spelling, still I am disposed, from the manner in which the exercise is often conducted, to suggest a few thoughts opon the subject.
Not long ago I visited a school, and while I was present the spelling classes were called out one after the other. They came out in a confused, disorderly manner, no matter how, provided that after frequent changes of position, they found the proper place. The mode of dictating words by the teacher was fanlty. Instead of giving the words their usual pronunci. ation as heard in reading, he took special pains, in many cases, to accent
each syllable, so that, in fact, he spelled the word for the scholar, and thus in a great measure relieved him of the necessity of studying his lesson. For instance, instead of pronouncing the words acorn, camlet, truant, etc., in the usual way, with the accent on the penult, a marked accent was given to both syllables. Such pronunciation is faulty in the extreme, and fatal to good spelling, for if a pupil is taught in this defective mannər, the spoken word sounds so differently from the spelled word, that he will not be able to spell the former without this aid. 1
Another fault I observed, was the practice of permitting those who had misspelled a word " to try again,” a practice pernicious in its results. It is destructive of self-reliance and certainty as to their knowledge of the lesson. Such spelling is simply guessing, and therefore should not be tolerated one moment. If the teacher pursues this course, his scholars will inevitably fall into a las habit in the preparation of their lessons, and come to the recitation poorly prepared, for hard study is unnecessary, they are informed by the teacher if they misspell a word, and the probability is that they can spell it correctly by making another trial. This is certainly wrong. The teacher should require his pupils to learn their lessons, so that they will be positive they know them, and the recitation should be conducted in sach a manner as to secure this end. Each word should be pronounced distinctly, and only once, accenting it correctly, and granting the pupil but one opportunity to spell it. If spelled incorrectly, pass it to the “next," or what is better still, apparently take no notice of the mistake, give out another word to the “next,” giving him an opportunity, however, to correct the mistake of the other if he has observed it, but if not, he will spell the word you pronounced to him, and thus you proceed with every member of the class. By this method you not only secure certainty, bat another important desideratam-attention, for in order to discover and correct mistakes, each one is compelled to know how every word should be spelled, and listen attentively to the spelling of others.
If no one corrects the mistakes, all are regarded as having made them. Thus you make every member of the class responsible for the whole lesson, and the feeling of responsibility thus awakened acts as a healthy stimulus to study.
This I conceive to be an important point, and one which should receive more attention than is ordinarily bestowed upon it. In this respect many teachers fail. Apparently the lesson may be well learned and correctly spelled, but if another teacher were to hear it, or a different mode of condacting the exercise were adopted, the class might make many mistakes, evincing that it has not perfectly mastered the lesson. The teacher, therefore, should resort to various expedients to ascertain that his class has thoroughly learned the lesson. He should not rest satisfied with the mere ability to spell words pronouncing in regular succession, for if this method is aniformly pursued, scholars will learn to spell from association, and
will be unable to spell words not thus associated. The class should not only possess the ability to spell words when placed in a table with other words of the same number of syllables, and similarly accented, but when disconnected from the words with which they are usually found, and in any connection whatever. For this purpose it would be advisable to have occasional reviews, making a selection at random from what has been passed over, or perhaps make the exercise more general, consisting of words chosen promiscuously. It is also a good plan to connect spelling with other recitations, spelling difficult or peculiar words which occur in the reading lessons, and technical terms as they are met with in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, chemistry, natural philosophy, and other branch
Thus will be formed the habit of observing and becoming familar with the spelling of a large class of words which otherwise might be neglected, wbile at the same time the object to be obtained by the reviews recommended, would also be promoted.
If the teacher adopts the plan of having his class spell in rotation, calling upon “the next” whenever a word is missed, he will find his scholars depending upon bim, in a great measure, to know whether the spelling is correct or not, and thus their knowledge is not of a positive character. He can very readily ascertain this fact. Suppose, for instance, that he gives out the word 66 separate," and that it is spelled correctly, but he calls
upon the “next," and the next thinking it spelled incorrectly, spells it “seperate,” then it is passed to the third, who being of the opinion that those who have proceeded him have failed, spells it differently from them, when it is pronounced to the fourth, and finally to every member of the class, some spelling it correctly, but the larger portion incorrectly, all, perhaps, thinking that they have missed it, and very much surprised at the result. I remember, on a certain occasion, to have heard a word of three syllables, and by no means difficult, given out in a similar manner to a class of thirty. Only six or seven of that large number spelt the word correctly, and they probably thought that they had not. This shows a lack of certainty on the part of the pupils, which the teacher should be careful to guard against.
These suggestions have been made upon the supposition that the exercise under consideration is conducted orally, which mode many teachers disprove of, and claim that the spelling lessons should be written, and very justly, as I think, but I do not propose in this article to discuss the relative merits of the two methods. I may on a future occasion. W. O. S.
FEMALE SALARIES.—If any one knows why a woman should teach or do any other good work, for half what a man would receive for the same service, let him give the world the knowledge; but if none can give & good reason for this disparity, then all should unite to remove it as injuri. ons and unjust.
ERRORS IN THE MODE OF TEACHING ENGLISH GRAMMAR.
RICHMOND, September 9th, 1858. There is no study pursued in our common schools, and perhaps not in many of the higher grade, the practical part of which is so much neglected or so little attended to as that of English grammar. To evince the truth of this remark, it need only be observed that among those who systematically pursue the study of grammar in our schools, the proportion of those whose language is in any degree improved by previous study, is extremely small. A still more striking proof, however, of the truth of this observa tion may be found in the fact that a large proportion of the teachers of our common schools, though they possess a competent knowledge of the rules and definitions of grammar, are, in a great measure, ignorant of their practical application. Although enough has been said to attest the truth of the preceding declaration, yet with a view of showing the necessity there is of a radical change in the method of teaching English grammar, I propose to extend my observations on this part of my subject, and show that errors in the practical applications of the principles of grammatical science, are by no means confined within the humble circle of those who have been thus far the subject of critical remark.
There is no more prolific source of error in composition than that which results from the wrong collocation of adverbs, and among these the adverb only, most frequently suffers from this cause.
A few examples will illustrate this point. “By greatness,” says Addison, as quoted by Blair, “I do not only mean the bulk of any single object, but the largeness of a whole view.” Here the wrong collocation of tłe adverb only makes it limit the verb mean; whereas, had it been placed after object, the sense would have been unimpaired, and the restricting force of the adverb would have been confined to its proper place. A writer in the Wisconsin Farmer observes : We protest that the columns of the Farmer, only coming to us once a month, are too choice," etc. The place of the adverb only, makes it limit coming; though most unquestionably designed by the author to restrict the phrase once a month.* Again, in Dodd's Cattle Doctor, as quoted by the same journal,* it is observed : “If the animal is only blasted in a moderate degree, this treatment will generally prove successfal.” Here again, it is seen that the wrong collocation of the adverb makes it restrict the verb blasted; whereas it was designed to limit the phrase, in a moderate degree. Hence the arrangement should have been thus: “If the animal is blasted in a moderate degree only," etc. "There are miseries in idleness which the idle can only conceive."Dr. Johnson. Corrected thus, which the idle only can conceive.
* Vol X., pages 160 and 162.
Instances of the same description may be multiplied ad infinitum, but these are sufficient for my purpose.
Active transitive verbs are sometimes indiscriminately used for nenter and intransitive. An instance of this kind, and one which the more frequently occurs from the similarity between them, both in signification and sound, is found in the indiscriminate use of the neuter intransitive verb to lie, and the active transitive verb to lay. “I am going to lay down," “He has laid down," etc., are expressions which, though they appertain more frequently to the colloquial style than to polished composition, are by no means limited in their use to that class of persons who make no pretensions to intellectual culture. Though not within the scope of my present design, it may perhaps put that class of persons on their gaard, who thus indiscriminately use these verbs, to inform them that the imperfect tense of the former, lay, precisely corresponds with the present tense of the latter, that they are nearly identical in sense, but that the one being transitive, and the other intransitive, a careful discrimination should be exercised in the use of them.
In the use of verbs and phrases which, in point of time, relate to each other, the order of time, even by some of our best writers, is not sufficiently observed. “I intended to have written,” is an expression which is so often dropped, both from the lips and the pen of speakers and writers of almost every grade of intellectual culture, that, although irreconcilable alike to grammar and to senze, it fails to excite the least attention. “I found him better than I expected to have found him." " From the little conyersation I had with him he appears to have been å man of letters." "I intended to have been here before.99* " Columbus had fondly hoped at one time, to have rendered the natives civilized, industrious, and tribu. tary to the crown.”+ These expressions are sanctioned by high authority as well as by common usage, and though not in accordance with my presont design to act the part of a connoisseur or lingual expositor, it may not be amiss to observe that, in these instances of impropriety the act or intention of doing a thing, or of coming in possession of a fact, is made to precede the design or expectation of doing so. They are, therefore, soleoisms in language, and, says Murray, whose grammar is, to a great extenty the foundation of all that have succeeded it,“ verbs of the infinitive mood in the following form; to write, to be writing, and to be written, always denote something cotemporary with the time of the governing verb or subsequent to it.” Again, he observes, "all verbs expressive of hope, desire, intention, or command, must invariable be followed by the present, and not the perfect of the infinitive." Conjunctions connect not only the same moods and tenses of verbs, and the same cases of nouns and pronouns, but also the same forms of those cases as well as of those moods and tenses. The accomplished Mr. Addison is, therefore, guilty of a sligh