« НазадПродовжити »
ample and compensating. It may not come in earthly goods, but conscience, men, and God will conspire to add to your blessings here, and crown your being with richer gifts hereafter.
THE TEACHER'S VISION.
The last scholar had gone, and silence once more reigned in the schoolroom. Weary and disheartened, the teacher leaned her head upon the desk, while the silent tears coursed down her cheeks. Impatient at the slow growth of the seeds she had attempted to scatter, and distrustful of her own fitness for the position she held, she yielded herself to murmurs and self-upbraidings. Busy memory dwelt not alone with the present, but, far down in the distant past, scenes were reviewed, actions scanned, and motives questioned, till her whole past life seemed arrayed before her. Around her stood all the children and youth she had ever taught, and while attempting to trace the history of each, and the bearing her teaching and influence had had, not only through the changes of the past, but also to penetrate into the unknown future, gradually the scene became confnsed and indistinct, and from the misty vapor that seemed to surround her there issued a fair, bright being, who thus addressed her: “I am thy guardian angel, the one appointed by thy Father and mine to watch over thee, protect, guide and encourage thee. Often thou thinkest thy burdens too heavy to be borne, forgetting that they are appointed by the great All-Wise, who cannot err; but lest thou shouldst yield to the whisperings of discontent, and thus unfit thyself for the faithful discharge of life's duties that still await thee, I am permitted to tear aside the veil that hides the past and future from the present, and give thee a glimpse of things not lawful for mortals to know. Look! Behold the fruit of thy labors." As she gazed there stood before her a lad of tender years, whose perceptions seemed dull, and intellect beclouded, with a natural distaste for study and application. Through her long-continued patience, and kind encouragement, he was at last induced to apply himself, till he finally stood before the world learned and great, a blessing to his rače.
Again she saw a youth whose early training and associations had been among the low and vile. For a few short weeks he was under her care, when, with faithful admonition and earnest entreaty, she had sought to warn him of the danger of his course, and point him to the "perfect way"; but he had gone from her, and she had mourned for him as one that was lost to all that was good. Now she saw him encountering temptation after 'temptation, with solicitations to evil from every source, all of which he met with the firm resolve in his heart, "I'll heed the advice of
my teacher.” And as she continued to look, she saw him bravely conquer every evil habit, till, passing on to man's estate, he became himself a noted philanthropist, spending his time and substance for the good of his fellow beings. On his death-bed he exclaimed: “All that I am or have been I owe to my teacher.”
Again she looked, and far away in a bamboo hut on the banks of the Ganges, sat the wife of the missionary, teaching the alphabet to the native children gathered around her. “What first led thee to think of devoting thy life to the heathen ?" inquired the spirit guide, approaching her. “The instructions received from my pious teacher," was the reply. “Are you satisfied, or would you look still farther?” said the guide. Tears were again swiftly flowing, but they were tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. "No more will I murmur at my lot. I have been ungrateful. I am unworthy this high reward," said the humbled teacher. As she turned to thank her guide, he disappeared; and while wondering at the strange things she had seen, she awoke. 'The weary teacher had slept and dreamed; but there was comfort and encouragement in her dream: she could now continue her labors, inspired with Hope. BERLIN, July 1859.
THE USES AND ABUSES OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR*
BY REV. J. W. PRATT, A. M., PROF. ENG. LIT. UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA.
It is a notorious fact that while English Grammar is taught in all our schools, very few of the pupils who receive the instruction attain any degree of proficiency in speaking or writing our language with accuracy.
It is also undeniable that the very first definition they learn, is, English Grammar is the art of speaking and writing the English language with propriety." If the preceding statement is true, and the definition is correct, it is evident that, although the pupils in our schools spend years in learning something, they never learn English Grammar.
This being universally conceded, the inquiry is naturally suggested, why is it that while every other art may be acquired by means of certain methods of instruction, the art of speaking our vernacular cannot be imparted by means of the appliances ordinarily used in our common schools ? It is certainly an anomaly that the very methods which for a long period have been considered the proper methods for teaching an art, should have invariably failed to accomplish the very results for which they have been assiduously pursued.
Some teachers, finding, by sad experience, that the text-books in common use fail to impart a practical knowledge of the art, assume that the
* Read before the Alabama Educational Association, third meeting.
fault must lie in the books, and forthwith set about making books for themselves. After much labor and much compilation they produce a work which they fondly hope has met every practical difficulty, and is to supersede all the rest. But, alas ! when tested, the invariable result is experienced ; while the book is good enough, and embodies all the principles of its predecessors, and perhaps something more, derived from their more extended research, the scholars will not learn to apply the principles, pertinaciously persist in solecisms,and wantonly luxuriate in the grossest violations of the plainest grammatical laws. Another practical teacher, finding that the grammars commonly used agree in all the fundamental doctrines, and differ only in insignificant details, and having satisfied himself that they are all alike practically impotent to impart skill in English speech, fancies that the difficulty lies in the nomenclature, and in the number of the details; and he hopes to find a remedy in a thorough simplification of all the doctrines, and a reduction of all the principles of the language to a few general rules which shall be easily mastered.
It was with this plea that Mr. I. J. Morris, a citizen of this State, prepared a little work not larger than the Westminster Catechism, in which the whole art was to be taught in sixteen lessons. He attacked what he called “the old systems,” remorselessly; and, in order to make good his pretensions, he was compelled to attack the very fundamentals of general grammar, and to dispense with any discriminating analysis of the parts of speech.
When, however, the second edition of this work appeared, the little pamphlet had grown into a stereotyped book, fully as large as any of those which he had made the object of attack. Thus his system which had been made philosophically absurd for the sake of brevity, became in process of time, fully as cumbrous as the old systems; and, like them, it has shared the common fate.
If there were no other argument for the doctrine of total depravity, the teacher of English Grammar finds enough to demonstrate it to his own mind in the perverse habits of his pupils, who, “while they know the right, do yet the wrong pursue.” And his sad experience is revealed in that desparing interrogatory annually propounded to us from all quarters of the State, " in English Grammar, who will show us any good ?”
It would be presumptuous in me to undertake to give a satisfactory answer to this question, but having been called upon to express my views upon this important subject, and to designate such text-books as I deem best for use in our schools, the Association will pardon me if I dwell at some length upon the principles that would guide me in the selection of a text-book in grammar.
In pursuing the subject, I propose, 1. To define Grammar.
2. To discuss the ends which the study of English Grammar proposes to accomplish.
3. To discuss the true methods by which these ends may be accomplished.
4. To make a few remarks upon the text-books which have been sent to me for examination.
1. What is Grammar ?
“In its widest signification, Grammar is the doctrine of words and sentences. It is the science which unfolds the laws by which the various It forms of thought appear in language; by which logical ideas and concep1 tions, in themselves and in their relations, embody themselves in words, iz and logical judgments in sentences.”
Thus the sphere of Grammar is limited to the sentence and the words U: which compose it. Its domain is bounded at one extremity by a capital E letter, at the other by a period. It has nothing to do with the graces of il composition, or with the arrangement of consecutive sentences. These I belong to the province of rhetoric. The sentence, and the sentence only,
is its legitimate empire. In every discourse, Grammar has numerous te principalities, all separated from each other, in which it establishes an * independent authority, while rhetoric presides over all together. Gram11 mar rules the parts as parts; rhetoric, the whole as a whole.
English Grammar is the doctrine of English words and sentences. It is a species, of which general Grammar is the genus. It is an exhibition of the laws of general Grammar, as they have been modified in their adaptation to a particular language. In its true character it is not an art,
but a science—a particular phase of the science of universal Grammar, i working out its laws in the English language. It is a scientific embodi
ment of the usages of the English language. It is a scientific embodiment Shine of the usages of the English language, and a systematic exhibition of the
laws which govern us in our attempts to write or speak that language. Thus far the authors of English Grammars are right, but when they go
on to say, as is said in the first Grammar which I open at random, “A of knowledge of English Grammar enables us to read, write, and speak the the English language correctly,” I deny the assertion, and appeal to experience and observation.
I appeal to your experience as teachers to know whether you invariably speak the language correctly, even in your school-rooms; to your observation, to know whether your best scholars do not violate the rules of Grammar even while they repeat them; whether they do not in the ordinary recitations on other subjects, and in the sports of the play-ground, habitually outrage those grammatical laws which they know by heart and thoroughly understand; whether, in short, your whole observation would not lead you to conclude that a knowledge of English Grammar enables us to read, write, and speak the English language most barbarously. This leads me to the second point I proposed for consideration.
2. The ends which you propose to accomplish by teaching English Grammar in our common schools.
You will all agree that you teach English Grammar in your schools in order to train your pupils to accuracy in the use of their vernacular. Allow me to ask, with how many of your pupils have you succeeded in this aim ? If I am to judge from my limited experience in the intercourse I have have had with those pupils, I should say, with about one in every fifty. Do not misunderstand me. In examining them after they leave your schools, I find many among them who give good evidence of faithful drilling in the principles of the science; many who can recite all the rules of syntax by their numbers, and in their proper order; many who can resolve a sentence into its grammatical elements; but scarcely one in a hundred who speaks and writes correctly. And yet, If I mistake not, the avowed object of the study is to gain this end, and this end only.
Now in the practical business of life, when a means, which has been frequently tried, uniformly fails to secure the end in view, we are apt to abandon it as unworthy of further experiment. Not so with us in the teaching of our language We persist in telling our pupils, and in persuading ourselves, that the study of English Grammar is a means of learning to speak and write good English; and we go on from year to year in the same old track, hoping that one day the falsehood may become a truth. But with the experience of all the land to bear me out, I unhesitatingly deny the dogma. And now I go further, and assert that this is not the legitimate end to be sought in the study of the grammar of our language.
The numerous failures we have experienced ought to convince us that we are teaching grammar with a wrong aim; or, if the aim we have is one worthy of pursuit, that we are seeking it by the wrong methods. I shall show in another part of this essay what is the legitimate design of the study of English Grammar. but at this point of the discussion I shall content myself with the simple assertion that English Grammar cannot teach, and is not adapted to teach, the art of speaking and writing the English language to children. I, therefore, hold that the universality of our failure in teaching this art is to be ascribed to the fact that we have not adapted the means to the end. I am prepared for the surprise which such an announcement is calculated to produce: and I almost fear that such apparent radicalism will exclude me from your sympathies. But, like the old Greek, I would say, “strike, but hear me.' And this leads me to the third point I propose to examine.
To be Continued.
CHARLESS.--Miss Charless, daughter of the lately murdered Joseph Charless, of St. Louis, has given $20,000 to endow the Professorship of Physical Science in Westminster College, Fulton, Mo. Her father had expressed special interest in that object.