« НазадПродовжити »
accompany the studies, even the common reading, writing, arithmetic, mensuration, &c., whilst the intellectual faculties thus developed were more easily brought under the power of the will, wben the moral faculties were in healthy exercise. Catechetical as his instruction generally was, he avoided the extreme in which it is now used and its attendant error of cultivating the memory of children at the expense of their reflecting, and still more, their moral powers. He never began with abstract truths of religion, &c., but with the imagination and actual experience of the children; so that the answer was not mere words or notions of the memory, but the enlargement of existing ideas. His object was not so much to give information, as to give such information and such views of things, as would draw out all the good and amiable points of the character, and repress the contrary.
The office of schoolmaster in the district of Munster, was at that time performed in the more populous parishes by men who, intending to be clergymen, had gone through a part of the studies at the gymnasium, and then stopped for want of money, talents, or other causes; but in the smaller parishes and scattered country places, it was performed by laborers, who, teaching in winter, returned to their work in summer. By far the greatest number of them were, of course, very ignorant and unfit for any intelligent teaching, but their pay was poor in proportion, and many, having no room, made use of some bakehouse, or even an old chapel without a stove, in the cold nights of winter. To tempt them to an internal improvement, Furstenberg began with an external one; and for this, commissioned Overberg to visit all the village schools of the district. Some of the bad, superfluous, and unlicensed were closed, and instead of two or three inconvenient, one more convenient erected; then every schoolmaster who offered himself for examination, and passed it creditably, had a yearly salary secured him of twenty, thirty, or even forty thalers, (each about 75 cents, according to the population of his parish. The examination was to be repeated every three years, and they who wished to improve themselves were advised to attend the normal school at Munster. The expenses of this attendance were all to be paid for them; and in order that there might be no material omnission of their school duties, the attendance at the normal school was restricted to the usual time of their vacation, from August 21, to the beginning of November. On this being settled, from twenty to thirty old schoolmasters attended Overberg, and most thoroughly exercised his patience and charity, by their indescribable helplessness and incapacity for learning; from nine to twelve, and from two to five, he instructed them in the principles of teaching, in religion, in Scripture history, in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He carefully prepared himself for this, by one and a half hour's study; and he spent the rest of the day in reading with the most backward. Hopeless as all this trouble seemed at first, in a few years the result was rich in blessings.
As was mentioned in the introduction, Overberg's zeal for the welfare of the ignorant poor produced in many others a similar feeling. Pupils soon came to his lectures whose fervent wish was to become efficient Christian teachers. The example of these influenced some of the more indolent; and many of the schoolmasters attended him, not only as long as goverument paid their expenses, but for many years afterwards. Ignorant and unpolished as were the greatest number of them at first, they scarcely ever required a reproof from him, feeling respect and affection when they saw his estimable character shine forth in its simplicity and friendliness. Their studies commenced with prayer; and the dullest heart must have been, in some degree, moved when Overberg entered and began, “Come, Holy Ghost;" whilst his simplicity of manner, his want of all appearance of study or learning, with his power and fervor, struck even those most accustomed to preaching. The source from whence he obtained all this may be seen from a rule in his diary.
“Let in every thing, 1st, the love of God be the moving principle; 2d, the will of God the guiding clue; 3d, the glory of God the end. When this is done, then wilt thou walk before God and be perfect.” Or more conscisely, “ Do and suffer every thing from love to God, according to God's will and God's glory.” Again, November 6, 1791, at the end of the course, having thanked God for his support, &c., he adds, “In previous years I felt more ashamed, having more reliance on my own powers, and more inclination to the vanity of pleasing men. This year Thou hast given me a stronger feeling of my weakness, more confidence in Thee, and greater desire to please Thee only."
His extreme care in previous preparation, even for teaching the children of the free school, will be seen by a subsequent extract; and the following shows clearly the great conscientiousness with which he performed the details of his daily instruction, and particularly that of the young communicants.
“ April 12, 1790. I thank Thee, Ó Father in heaven, for the strength Thou gavest me when instructing the children yesterday for the first communion ; support, O Jesus, those whom Thou hast thus fed with thy flesh and blood ; supply by thy grace what through my fault or theirs was displeasing in their hearts to Thee; and help me to avoid those faults in future. I began too late to watch their conduct, in order to know their hearts, and so prepare them for thy advent. I persuaded myself I could make amends' by my instruction, though this evidently requires observation of the character before. Thou knowest, indeed, that I often strove to instruct them from the purest motives ; but how often, when teaching, did vanity come in, and how oft get command over me! I frequently observed this at the time, and, struggling against it, got confused, obscure, and injured the children in consequence. Often, when led captive by vanity, I said something or left something unsaid, which I would not have done, had thy glory and the salvation of the children been my sole object; and this was particularly the case when strangers were present.
“Writing out as much as possible previously was some safeguard against this folly, though it took away from the freedom and more touching simplicity of the lecture.
“My getting confused and annoyed when the instruction did not go on as I wished, showed me what mixed motives yet governed me; my satisfaction depended not so much on my own conduct, as on the result of the satisfaction it gave to others; and although I struggled against all of this, it was not so earnestly as I ought to have done. O Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, and blot out all my misdeeds! Make me a clean heart, and so shall I teach thy babes thy way!
“In order to avoid these faults in future, I will now take down the names of those who will probably attend the communion next year; so that I may observe the state of their heart and mind, during the whole time.' I will pray for them ; and when I think it will do good, 'I will mention them in the public prayers of the school. But, Lord, how can I have this singleness of view ? Thou must give it, and the strength to act accordingly; I will fight, unwilling though I be, and do Thou grant that I may endure the fight to the end !"
The above applies to the Lorraine free school, to which he paid constant attention when conducting the normal school. But to recur to his plan of teaching in this, we may remark his practice of explaining and illustrating, by examples, the principles of moral philosophy on which teachers ought to proceed. His power of illustrative narration being very great, he could, when necessary, fill up the details of the picture so faithfully, that every one entered into it, and would probably recollect some example from their own experience. Once, when illustrating some error in teaching, an old schoolmaster, struck with the ideal picture, cried out in low German, “Oh, Mr. Overberg, that is just what is done amongst us'!" Frequently his pictures were highly comical, but respect for him was such as to prevent any one giving way to their feelings. In short, such was the varied talent shown in his lectures, that persons quite indifferent to the subject would crowd to hear them.
Overberg was an admirer of nature in the highest and noblest sense, and in the wonders of creation he saw a representation of the Deity. Every leaf, every flower was to him a proof of the power, and goodness, and wisdom of God, and he must have accustomed himself to raise his views from the creature to the Creator from his earliest years, it having, as he said, become a second nature to him. He earnestly impressed upon the teachers the pious consideration of the works of creation, giving them directions for it, and urging them to turn the attention of the children to them as early as possible. He thought that a teacher in the country ought occasionally tn give his lessons in the open air, and so teach the children to observe for themseives the end for which every thing is made, and how perfectly it is adapted to it, whilst views of the power and wisdom of God should thus be brought into lectures on religion.
Valuable, however, as was the information given to the pupils, it was not more so than the example of friendliness, humility, and patience which Overberg showed toward themselves; as when having twice clearly explained some very simple, thing, he would quietly go over it again, if the answer of the pupil made it probable it was not clearly comprehended, and thus the other pupils would see in practice what is meant by adapting a subject to the powers of comprehension of the hearer without omitting any principle.
The instruction was always closed by one of the church hymns to which he was very partial, and professed even in one of his latter years to have been much benefitted by the German hymn in the evening service of a village church. “Were I an officiating priest, (said he,) I would always use such a German litany instead of a Latin vesper. How impressive is that one beginning · Have pity, Lord,'" &c.
At the conclusion of the course, the students were examined, and provided with situations, and subsequently promoted according to their merit.
Thus was he, under God, not merely the founder but the supporter of a system of education rich in blessings to his country, but besides this he had also the peculiar merit of educating a class of female teachers to which probably there is nothing similar elsewhere. Young women, not from necessity but piety, attended some of his lectures in the normal school, and his catechising in the free school, and the majority resisting subsequent temptations to give up their labors, continued devoted to them through life. These were appointed to different girls' schools, and the results were so good, and subsequently so notorious, that many of them were sent for into other countries, whilst others as readers or governesses became blessings to private families. He used to say that women made better teachers than men, and he regretted exceedingly that there was no normal school established for them at the same time with that at Büren.
His instruction in the Lorraine cloister school consisted in some hours being given three times a week to religion, Bible history, and arithmetic; to this, and particularly to the catechising the children in the church every Sunday, there came persons of all ranks, thinking that they then saw in Overberg a faithful follower of Him who said, "Suffer little children," &c. How important he felt this instruction of the children to be, may be seen from the following extract from his journal :
“ January 15, 1790. This morning I went into the school without sufficient preparation. O God I help me to improve in this. It is a delusion to imagine that any thing is more necessary or ought to be preferred to this; want of preparation draws many faults after it, the instruction becomes dry, confused, without point, rambling; hence the children are puzzled, their attention distracted, and the employment becomes disagreeable to them and myself. I must also be very careful not to go too much into details ; into too extended views, and become too learned for the little ones; to comprehend and retain one good point is better for them than to hear ten and understand none well, or to miss the most important whilst thinking of the others.
“O God, help me ever more and more to imitate the manner of teaching of thy beloved Son, so divinely simple, short, clear, and easily remembered. Grant, that before I propose any thing to the children, I may ask myself, 'Is it necessary ? Is it useful ? Is there not something more useful, which ought to be preferred to it? Is it sufficiently comprehensible? What is my object in proposing it? Will it, when known, give them only an appearance of learning, &c.? If so, away with it.""
“ February 7, 1790. Thou art teaching me, O my God, more and more for my own experience, that of myself I can do nothing. When I fear that the teaching which Thou hast committed to me will not go on well, then I am surprised at its success, and the contrary happens when I say, this time I shall succeed.' Is not this an intimation from Thee, not to trust on my own strength ? May thy grace help me to translate this into practice. O God, how many are thy favors; even to-day I observed that Thou takest away my usual impediment to clear and loud utterance, whenever I have to speak in the church to the children. Ever
You can not use too much caution in this respect in the presence of your pupils; their eyes are always directed to you, and are certainly far more penetrating than is generally imagined. They discover in you faults which you are not conscious of yourself, and these faults often shock them more, and render you more contemptible in their eyes, than other and much greater ones would do in the eyes of men of your own age. Forget yourself but in a single instance, and you may produce on them an impression, deeper than all your good lessons, and all the efforts you have made for them. Be careful, then, even in the smallest things, as much as possible, not only not to give them a bad example, but even an example which can not in all points be safely followed; for your example acts with great power on their character; it may produce immense good, or infinitely greater evil. Children pay more attention to the example of their superiors than to their lessons, however good and salutary they may be ; and since they have not discernment to distinguish a slight and very excusable fault from one much greater, or a weakness natural to humanity from an action intentionally bad, they are often less shocked at the last than at the first. It is for this reason that we never can be too prudent in the presence of such spec:ators and such judges. It is precisely in this company, more than in any other, that it is necessary to be most watchful over one's self; and their society is, consequently, an excellent means of self-improvement. Avoid, therefore, not only those vices which would cover you with shame in the eyes of all good' men, but also those defects and weaknesses which you would not like your pupils to imitate, if even your equals would not notice them.
2. Teach, on all occasions, not only by your words, but by your conduct and habits.
Instruction thus given, is for your pupils, not only the most efficacious, but also the most easy. Thus, would you accustom them to neatness ? let them see in you this good habit, while receiving your instructions on this subject; if you are yourself slovenly in your clothes and in your person, what will they think of your lessons on neatness? Would you form them to continuous activity ? never be idle yourself; work cheerfully, and never let them see you without occupation. Would you introduce order in your school ? never let them see any disorder, either in your own person or your affairs. Let good order be obvious in the class, in your habitation, in your household. He who throws every thing into confusion, and who, when he wants any thing, has sometimes to seek it in one corner, and sometimes in another, gives to his scholars a very sorry example of good order, Would you wish to teach them truth and fidelity ? never let any thing contrary to truth proceed from your own mouth, even in playfulness, lest this playfulness be misunderstood ; never make a promise or a threat which you can not or will not accomplish ; never leave a promise or a threat unperformed which you have made unconditionally, lest a motive should be attributed to you which would place you in the cyes of your pupils in the shade of suspicion of want of integrity.
3 Inspire in your pupils obedience to, and respect for their relations and their superiors; and take particular care not to weaken the consideration which children ought to have for their parents.
Do not those tutors commit a great sin, who never display more eloquence than when they chatter in the presence of your pupils on the awkwardness and ignorance of men of a certain age, or of old men, because they have not learned this or that thing which is no:v taught at the schools? By acting thus, they not only deprive their children of all respect for their parents, which leads to the most fatal consequences, but they also inspire them with an insupportable pride, which makes them despise all that may be said or done by those older than themselves.
4. Let the fear of God be visible in your actions, and in your manner on all occasions, especially in teaching religion.
Manifest always the most serious displeasure when your pupils say or do any thing contrary to the holy reverence which we owe to God, and take care yourself not to pronounce the name of God or of your Saviour with levity. Seek to have your own heart deeply impressed when you speak of truths of great importance ; for example, of the paternal gooduess of God toward men; of his mercy