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different cases at different stages of the process, and from this want of uniformity in the method and time of gaining it, it may fail to find a place in the system as published. Still, as the knowledge itself seems to us of the greatest importance, we cannot but be of opinion that the 'Lessons on Objects' would be improved if they were systematically directed to its acquirement.
Until some such alteration is made, we think that the treatise would be more beneficially used in combination with other works on the same subject than alone. With all the importance which we attach to the exercises of mental arithmetic, we see no occasion for making a complete course of it precede any introduction to written processes; nor is it necessary to confine its operations, as the present treatise seems to confine them, to examples which scarcely require the aid of rules for their easy and commodious solution. Regarding the Lessons on Number,' therefore, as a very valuable collection of questions and examples, arranged in the order recommended by experience, we would use them as an introduction to each rule or department of the subject. But when a certain familiarity with the practice had been thus acquired, instead of passing on to the practice of the next division, we would introduce the learner to the rules devised for the convenient performance of that on which he had already been engaged; these rules, of course, not being delivered to him as mere arbitrary formulæ, but being explained to him from the work of Professor De Morgan, or some other treatise founding them upon reasoning and demonstration. When the rules were thus acquired, we would recommend a further course of their application, both by writing and by mental operation, before proceeding to the next division of the subject. The length of this would depend on the attention and dexterity of the pupil; it would generally be short: and it might not always be necessary to wait scrupulously for the completion of one subject before proceeding to any consideration of the next. In passing from one division to another, we would again begin with the Lessons on Number,' and proceed, as they do, from the very simplest examples. But we are much mistaken if the number of those required would not be found rapidly to diminish at each successive stage of the process, and if the whole science would not be acquired both more rapidly and better, and more real exercise and improvement afforded to the mind, by this mode of procedure, than by adhering closely to that adopted in the work under our consideration.
SMITH AND DOLIER'S MODES OF TEACHING.
We have always imagined something very like quackery to exist in the various Inventions of Messrs. Smith and Dolier, 'all having for their object the saving of time and labour, and rendering education much more agreeable and easy than it has hitherto been.' These, if indeed they be inventions, have but a very slender title to the name, while the importance with which their respective merits are ushered into notice is wholly disproportionate to their intrinsic value. They are, indeed, of too trivial a nature to claim the attention of this journal. We have, however, read with great pleasure a small volume,* recently published by Mr. Smith. The awfully long title, and the tone of self-commendation which prevails throughout the volume, might, on a cursory glance, induce the belief, that this work is of the same class as the before-mentioned inventions of the writer; but, after a careful perusal, we are of opinion, that the Key to Reading' may fairly take its rank among books of utility in the business of education. It evinces rational views and much practical knowledge of the subject; and we are constrained to acknowledge, that its author is very superior to a mere ruler of copy-books, and a maker of delible ink. We understand that Mr. Smith is assisting by lectures, as well as by other exertions, in the important object of enlightening the rising generation, and we cannot doubt about the beneficial influence that must attend such methods of enforcing sound principles, and of persuading to rational practice.
The plans proposed by this gentleman are not, perhaps, quite as original as he may consider them, but he has the merit of causing them to become of extensive utility, inasmuch as the best parts of the most rational systems are brought forward in his volume, in an attractive popular form, calculated far more certainly to promote their adoption than if clothed in a more elaborate treatise, or encumbered by the technicalities of learned disquisition.
The Key to Reading' is explanatory of a method whereby this branch of education should be conducted, and which may be pursued with advantage by all who are interested in the
A Key to Reading; designed to assist parents and teachers to superintend lessons for youth with pleasure and advantage to themselves and their pupils. To which are added, An imaginary grammatical picture. An introduction to mental Arithmetic, and a sketch of Mnemonics. By John Smith, Lecturer on early Education, &c. Second Edition: pp. 108. Simpkin & Marshall, Stationers'Hall Court.
improvement of their pupils. The plan which it enforces is, perhaps, already partially practised by many rational in
The prominent feature of the plan is to ascertain whether a pupil understands as much of every word he reads in his lesson as the instructor himself; and if not, it is then the province of the latter to afford all the information he can to the former, not only on the words under inquiry, but in reply to the questions of the pupil himself, who may suddenly be reminded of a word he has met with, at another time, and respecting which he feels himself to be ignorant.'-p. 34.
It may be said, that there is nothing very original in this; the extent of its application is, however, certainly
The principle of examination into the words and sentences of lessons is, as I have already stated, old and well known; I wish it had been as well practised; but there is a beauty and an extent to which it may be carried, of which few persons can have an adequate idea, until an example is given to them, and then a union of pleasure and instruction is presented to their contemplation far suspassing anything arising from ordinary mental exercises, and rendering (so far as reading is concerned), not only the school-room, but the domestic circle, a scene of endless and ever-varying amusement.'—p. 8.
The practical illustration of the above principle was first suggested to Mr. Smith, by the perusal of an account of the Edinburgh Sessional School, written by John Wood, Esq. In this work our author found all his own ideas on the subject fully exemplified, and he accordingly inserts a copious and most interesting extract from the chapter in Mr. Wood's publication on the explanatory method in reading, which is replete with good sense and valuable views on the science of education. In this useful institution of the Scottish capital, the pupils are made to analyse every sentence as they read it, showing thereby that they thoroughly understand its meaning, while opportunity is taken by the instructor for imparting any general information with which the subject under discussion may naturally be connected. This is done in a manner which robs scholastic hours of their austerity, and converts an irksome task into a pleasurable exercise. Wood observes
'It is the constant remark of almost every stranger who visits the Sessional School, that its pupils have not at all the appearance of schoolboys, doomed to an unwilling task, but rather the happy faces of children at their sports. This distinction is chiefly to be attributed to that part of the system of which we are here treating; by which, in place of harassing a pupil with a mere mechanical routine
of sounds and technicalities, his attention is excited, his curiosity is gratified, and his fancy is amused. In the second place, when proper books are put into the hands of the scholars, every article which they read may be made the means, not only of forming in their youthful minds the invaluable habit of attention, but also of communicating to them, along with facility in the art of reading, much information, which is both adapted to their present age, and may be of use to them for the rest of their lives. How different is the result, where the mechanical art is made the exclusive object of the master's and the pupil's attention! How many fine passages have been read in the most pompous manner, without rousing a single sentiment in the mind of the performer! How many in which they have left behind them only the most erroneous and absurd impressions and associations!' . . . .
..‘A gentleman had, when young, been accustomed, like most schoolboys, to read, and probably to repeat, without the slightest attention to the sense, Gray's Elegy, not uncommonly known in school by the name of "The Curfew Tolls." What either "curfew" or "tolls" meant, he, according to custom, knew nothing. He always thought, however, of toll-bars, and wondered what sort of tolls were curfew-tolls; but he durst not, of course, put any idle questions on such a subject to the master. The original impression, as might be expected, remained, and to the present hour continues to haunt him, whenever this well-known poem comes into his mind."—p. 11.
The words contained in a sentence are not simply explained with reference merely to the text, but also with a view to future exigencies, and in some cases their roots, derivatives, and compounds are pointed out. Thus, if the word ' unprecedented' should occur, its meaning is not simply given, but the attention of the scholar is directed to the three-fold composition of the word, the un, the pre, and the cede, while he is invited to furnish some other examples, where the syllable un signifies a negative-then to illustrate the meaning of the syllable pre in some other words of which it forms a part; and, lastly, the signification of cede coming under examination, the meaning of its various compounds is required. Mr. Smith was induced to visit the establishment where so judicious a mode of instruction is practised, and he furnishes an interesting account of what passed in an examination of some of the pupils.
Although these belong to the humblest classes, they possess an advantage which rarely falls to the lot of any description of scholars,-that of having an enlightened philanthropist to direct and watch over their studies.
Mr. Wood, formerly pursuing the profession of an advocate, is now retired from business, and devotes nearly all his time and his talents to the superintendence of the Sessional
School, and the advancement of its pupils. With unremitting zeal does this benevolent gentleman afford the benefit of his ' valuable assistance to the teacher and the pupils of the school, in attending to the duties of which from ten till three 'o'clock every day, he is almost, if not quite, as punctual as 'the stipendiary master himself.' Many visitors attend this seminary, and take a great interest in all that is going forward. Passages are selected out of the school-books by any stranger present; and after one of the pupils has read a chosen paragraph, he is required to close the book, and give, in his own language, an account of what he has just read. Each person present is then at liberty to put questions to any of the children who compose the class, relating to the signification of the words, their parts of speech, the grammatical construction of the sentences, or any other question bearing upon the subject under discussion. Mr. Smith fixed upon part of a book which appeared to have been least travelled over,' and proposed a particular passage for perusal. The success which has crowned the benevolent exertions of Mr. Wood is instanced in the examination that ensued. The limits of the present article will not allow the insertion of the whole in detail. The pupils evinced throughout a knowledge of language, a clearness of ideas, and an acuteness of discrimination, which those who have only witnessed the made up exhibitions of other charitable institutions for education, can scarcely credit as having been displayed by any youthful scholars, and more especially by the children of labour. If these be, indeed, the spontaneous answers of the pupils, and we have not the slightest reason for questioning the fact, they exhibit a far greater degree of intellect than is usually found in seminaries wherein the higher classes are usually educated. Let it be remembered, however, that, in the present case, no long tasks had repressed the desire of knowledge-no grievous burden on the memory had deadened the other faculties but the mind had been expanded by a judicious course of instruction-the pupils had been incited to inquire, to think, and to reason-they had been called upon to exercise with pleasure those powers which become more vigorous and acute in proportion to their healthful exertion. This is indeed a triumph over the antiquated systems of mechanical learning.
One or two short extracts of the examination are given, as they may perhaps afford some idea of its nature, and of the proficiency of the scholars
Q. It is said, " These were the breathing times of our heroes." What were the breathing times ?-A. Short intervals in the battle.