Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

enforced when given. If any thing pertaining to the education of children demands discretion, prudence, wisdom, it U the commands which we impose upon them. In no case ought a command ever to be issued to a child without a moral certainty either that it will be voluntarily obeyed, or, if resisted, that it can be enforced; because disobedience to superiors, who stand at first in the place of the child's conscience, prepares the way for disobedience to conscience itself, when that faculty is developed. Hence the necessity of discriminating, as a preliminary, between what a child will do, or can be made to do, and the contrary. Hence, when disobedience is apprehended, the issue should be tried rather on a case of prohibition than of injunction, because a child can be deterred when he cannot be compelled. Hence, also, the necessity of discriminating between what a child has the moral power to do, and what it is in vain to expect from him. Take a child who has been brought up luxuriously, indulgently, selfishly, and command him, in the first instance, to incur some great sacrifice for a mere stranger, or for some object which he neither understands nor values, and disobedience is as certain as long days in the middle of June;—I mean the disobedience of the spirit, for fear, perhaps, may secure the performance of the outward act. Such a child knows nothing of the impulsions of conscience, of the joyful emotions that leap up in the heart after the performance of a generous deed; and it is as absurd to put such a weight of self-denial upon his benevolence, the first time, as it would be to put a camel's load upon his shoulders. Such a child is deeply diseased. He is a moral paralytic. In regard to all benevolent exertion and sacrifice, he is as weak as an infant; and he can be recovered and strengthened to virtuous resolutions only by degrees. What should we think of a physician, who, the first time his patient emerged from a sick chamber,—pallid, emaciated, tottering,—should prescribe a match at wrestling, or the running of races? Yet this would be only a parallel to the mode in which selfish or vicious children are often treated; nay, some persons prepare or select the most difficult cases,—cases requiring great generosity or moral intrepidity,—by which to break new beginners into the work of benevolence or duty. If, by a bad education, a child has lost all generous affections (for no child is born without them); if he never shares his books or divides his luxuries with his playmates; if he hides his playthings at the approach of his little visitors; if his eye never kindles at the recital of a magnanimous deed,—of course I mean one the magnanimity of which he can comprehend,—then he can be won back to kindness and justice only by laborious processes, and in almost imperceptible degrees. In every conversation before such children, generosity and self-denial should be spoken of with a fervor of admiration and a glow of sympathy. Stories should be told or read before them, in which the principal actors are signalized by some of the qualities they delight in (always provided that no clement of evil mingles with them); and when their attachments are firmly fastened upon hero or heroine, then the social, amiable, and elevated sentiments which are deficient in the children themselves, should be developed in the actors or characters whom they have been led to admire. A child may be led to admire qualities on account of their relationships and associations, when he would be indifferent to them if presented separately. If a child is selfish, the occasion for kind acts should be prepared, where all the accompaniments are agreeable. As the sentiment of benevolence gains tone and strength, and begins to realize some of those exquisite gratifications which God, by its very constitution, has annexed to its exercise, then let the collateral inducements be weakened, and the experiments assume more of the positive character of virtue. In this way, a child so selfish and envious as to be grieved even at the enjoyment of others, may be won, at last, to seek for delight in offices of humanity and self-sacrifice. There is always an avenue through which a child's mind can be reached; the failures come from our want of perseverance and sagacity in seeking it. We must treat moral more as we treat physical distempers. Week after week the mother sits by the sick-bed, and welcomes fasting and vigils; her watchfulness surrounds her child, and with all the means and appliances that wealth or life can command, she strives to bar up every avenue through which death can approach him. Did mothers care as much for the virtues and moral habits as lor the health and life of their offspring, would they not be as patient, as hopeful, and as long-suflering in administering antidote and remedy to a child who is morally, as to one who is physically, diseased I

Is it not in the way above described,—after a slowly brightening twilight of weeks, perhaps of months,—that the oculist, at lust, lets in the light of the meridian sun upon the couched eye 1 Is it not in this way, that the convalescent of a fevered bud advances, from a measured pittance of the weakest nutrition, to that audacious health which spurns at all restraints upon appetite, whether as to quantity or quality '( For these healings of the diseased eye or body, we demand the professional skill and science of men, educated and trained to the work; nay, if any impostor or empiric wantonly tampers with eye or life, the injured party accuses him, the officers of the law arrest him, the jurors upon their oaths convict hini, the judges pass sentence, and the sheriff executes the mandates of the law;—while parties, officers, jurors, judges, and sheriffs, with one consent, employ teachers to direct and train the godlike faculties of their children, who never had one hour of special study, who never received one lesson of special instruction, to fit them for their momentous duties.

If, then, the business of education, in all its departments, be so responsible; if there be such liability to excite and strengthen any one faculty of the opening mind, instead of its antagonist; if there be such danger of promoting animal ana selfish propensities into command over social and moral sentiments; if it be so easy for an unskillful hand to adjust opportunity to temptation in such a way that the exposed are almost certain to fall; if it be a work of such delicacy and difficulty to reclaim those who have wandered; if, in fine, one, not deeply conversant with the human soul, with all its various faculties and propensities, and with all the circumstances and objects which naturally excite them to activity, is in incomparably greater danger of touching the wrong spring of action, than one unacquainted with music is of touching the wrong key or chord of the most complicated musical instrument.—then, ought not every one of those who are installed into the sacred office of teacher, to be "a workman who needeth not to be ashamed (" Surely, they should know, beforehand, how to touch the right spring, with the right pressure, at the right time.

There is a terrible disease that sometimes afflicts individuals, by which all the muscles of the body seem to be unfastened from the volitions of the mind, and then, after being promiscuously transposed, to be rcfastened; so that a wrong pair of muscles is attached to every volition. In such a cose, the afflicted patient never docs the thing he intends to do. If he would walk forward, his will starts the wrong pair of muscles, and he walks backward. When he would extend his right arm to shake hands with you, in salutation, he starts the wrong pair of muscles, thrusts out his left, and slaps or punches you. Precisely so is it with the teacher who knows not what faculties of his pupils to exercise, and by what objects, motives, or processes, they can be brought into activity. He is the trill of the school; they are the body which that will moves; and, through ignorance, he is perpetually applying his will to the wrong points. What wonder, then, if, spending day after day in pulling at the wrong pairs of muscles, the teacher involves the school in inextricable disorder and confusion, and, at last, comes to the conviction that they were never made to go right 1

But, says an objector, can any man ever attain to such knowledge that he can touch as he should this " harp of thousand strings!" Perhaps not, I reply; but ask, in my turn, Cannot every man know better than he now docs? Cannot something be done to make good teachers better, and incompetent ones less incompetent i Cannot something bo done to promote the progress and to diminish tlie dangers of all our schools? Cannot something be done to increase the intelligence of those female teachers, to whose hands our children are committed, in the earliest and most impressible periods of childhood ;—and thus, in the end, to increase the intelligence of mothers,—for every mother is ex officio a member of the College of Teachers? Cannot something be done, by study, by discussion, by practical observation,—and esjiecially by the institution of Normal Schools,—which shall diffuse both the art and the science of teaching more widely through our community, than they have ever yet been diffused f

Mv friends, you cannot go for any considerable distance in any direction, within the limits of our beloved Commonwealth, without passing one of those edifices professedly erected for the education of our children. Though rarely an architcctural ornnment, yet, always, they are a moral beauty, to the land in which we dwell. Kilter with me, for a moment, into one of these important, though lowly mansions. Survey those thickly seated benches. Before us are clustered the children of to-day, the men of to-morrow, the immortals of eternity! What costly works of art; what splendid galleries of sculpture or of painting, won by a nation's arms, or purchased by a nation's Wealth, are comparable in value to the treasures we have in these children I How many living and palpitating nerves come down from parents and friends, and center in their young nearts! and, as they shall advance in life, other living and palpitating nerves, which no man can number, shall go out from their bosoms to twine round other hearts, and to feel their throbs of pleasure or of pain, of rapture or of agony I How many fortunes of others shall be linked with their fortunes, and shall share an equal fate. As yet, to the hearts of these young beings, crime has not brought in its retinue of fears, nor disappointment its sorrows. Their joys are joys, and their hopes more real than our realities; and, as visions of the future burst upon their imaginations, their eye kindles, like the young eagle's at the morning sunbeam. Grouping these children into separate circles, and looking forward, for but a few short years, to the fortunes that await them, shall we predict their destiny, in the terrific language of the poet:—

w These shall the fury passions tear
The vultures of the mind.
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And ^harae that skulks behind.

<( Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.

"The stings of Falsehood, those shall try,
And hard nnkindiiess' alter'd eye
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse, with blood defiled.
And moody Madness, laughing wild,
Amid severest woe;—"

or, concentrating our whole souls into one resolve,—high and prophetically strong,—that our duty to these children shall be done, shall we proclaim, in the blessed language of the Savior;—" It Is Not The Will Of Youb Fatuke Which

IS IX HEAVEN, THAT ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES SHOULD FEBISU."

VIII. SAXONY.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING AND IMPROVEMENT OP TEACHERS.

In the kingdom of Saxony, the professional instruction, training and improvement of teachers, form a maked feature of the public school policy of the government

I. No person can be licensed to teach who can not exhibit evidence of good health, and unexceptionable moral character, has not attained twentyone years of age, has not received an education equivalent to that given in the best Burgher School, (our best Public High Schools,) passed a satisfactory examination as candidate before the provincial school-board, served two years as an assistant, and passed a second examination of a higher grade, for the post of principal teacher; or as an equivalent to the whole, he must have graduated with honor at one of the governmental Teachers' Seminaries.

II. There are seven Normal Schools for the preparation of male teachers, viz., two at Dresden, and one each, at Plauen, Grimma, Annaberg, Bautzen, and Nossen, besides, one for classical teachers in Leipsic, and one for female teachers at Calenberg, founded by the munificence of the Prince Schoenburg. The prescribed course of instruction occupies four years, the details of which will be found in the account of the Royal Seminary at Dresden. They are all internates, or boarding-schools.

The branches of instruction are: 1. Religion; 2. Catechism; 8. German Language and Literature; 4. Geography and History; 6. Arithmetic; 7. Geometry; 8. Pedagogy; 9. Penmanship; 10. Drawing; 11. Gymnastics; 12. Music. There are twenty-six lessons a week. Two hours of study every evening are devoted to a review of the lessons and instructions of the day, and the whole of Saturday morning to a review of the studies of the week, and the last of every month, to the studies of the month. Pupils of the two upper classes assist in teaching the classes of the model or preparatory school. These Normal Schools have been the foci of pedagogical improvement, and nearly all their teachers are graduates in high standing of the gymnasia and universities.

The Royal Seminary at Dresden was founded in 1785, by Elector Augustus IV., and formerly possessed the celebrated Dinter as one of its directors. It was intended for fifty pupils, with a staff of four officers, including the directors. All the pupils, except those whose parents live in Dresden, board and lodge in the institution with the officers. Caliniscb, one of the highest educational authorities in Germany, is vice-director. Connected with the seminary are six common schools, of the city, in which the pupils of the seminary acquire practice.

The Fletcher Seminary was founded by Baron Fletcher, in 1825, and has its own administration, although it is aided by the government Provision is made in the institution for twenty pupils, who,- for the annual charge of about $30, receive board, lodging and instruction, and in the second and third year of their course, a still larger allowance is made, especially to the poor and deserving. There is an institution for deaf mutes in the same building. This class of children in the country frequently attend the common school, whose teachers must therefore understand the methods of deaf-mute instruction.

III. The government protects the public schools from incompetent teachers, not only by providing seminaries enough to furnish an annual supply equal to the vacancies created by death and other causes, but by subjecting all candidates to a period of trial as well as of examination.

IV. When once found qualified the government fixes a salary, below which no regularly trained and appointed teacher shall be paid, but forbids his removal by any local authorities, until any complaints and charges are investigated and proved valid. Every teacher has a residence for his family.

V. The government has also established, on a foundation of 30,000 thalcrs, an institution, commenced in 1840, by Diihncr, for superannuated teachers, mnd the widows and orphans of teachers. To secure the benefits of the fund, teachers of the first class, (teachers in gymnasia, real schools and seminaries,) pay at their admission 4 dialers, and annually from 4 to 8 thalcrs, according to their salary. Teachers of the second class, (of common schools,) pay 2 thalcrs, and yearly from 1 to 4 thalcrs, according to their salary. The State takes care of the funds, and makes up any deficiency of the revenue of the fund to meet the demand upon it, besides a contribution of 2,000 thalcrs toward the capital. The fund yields:— 1. To the widows of teachers of the first class, yearly, 60 thalers. 2. To orphans of teachers of the same class, 12 thalers until they reach their eighteenth year. 3. To widows of teachers of the second class, 30 thalers, and to their children 8 thalers. Teachers are thus not only provided against want while living, but from anxiety for their families, when dead, or incapacitated for active exertion. The result of these wise provisions on the part of the government, is seen in the improved and improving condition of the schools, and the higher attainments, professional skill, and social standing and influence of the teachers.

The "Saxon Teachers' Mutual Aid Society" including 1,575 members, assisted in 1855, over one hundred of their number incapacitated by sickness. There is also a "Pestalozzian Association" numbering over 2,000 teachers, which gave assistance in 1857, to 244 orphan children of teachers, in 117 families.

VI. There are provincial and general associations of teachers for mutual and professional improvement.

« НазадПродовжити »