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The boys may also be encouraged to work examples in arithmetic from their own books during the evening, and to bring their work for the inspection of the teacher on the following morning. Other exercises for the sake of variety, as, for instance, parsing, geographical definitions, composition of letters, &c., may also be occasionally required. The system of home lessons is found to be extremely popular with the parents, who are thus enabled to judge in some degree of the progress of their children. It will be noticed by the list given at pages 6 and 7, that the children should purchase their own books.
With regard to the second point, the previous preparation of lessons by the teacher, it is a matter of the highest importance that no teacher should attempt to give a lesson without a previous careful study of the subject. It is not meant that he ought always to draw up his lesson on paper in all its details, and then deliver it like a lecture; nor is it considered desirable that he should confine himself literally to any form of lesson which may be laid down in a printed book. He should rather arrange in his own mind the different parts or divisions of the subject in their proper order, and then make himself thoroughly acquainted with every necessary particular connected with it, so that he may give the lesson without hesitation and without committing errors in respect either to facts or inferences. The amount of previous writing, in the shape of notes, which may be required, will depend upon the experience of the teacher himself. The practised master, who has a perfect knowledge of his subject from having frequently gone through it, will as a matter of course make the best extempore teacher; but even such a person will be likely, if he has not thought beforehand about what he is going to do, either to misplace some divisions of the lesson, or to make and sanction blunders in minute particulars. How much
more then will the young and inexperienced teacher be liable to such mistakes if he has not previously arranged carefully the several details of his lesson!
In the succeeding chapters, specimens of lessons will be given on various subjects, a study of which may possibly help teachers to carry out a system of previous preparation. It will be observed that the notes are not in a catechetical form. The teacher must learn to frame his own questions at the time of asking them. Now and then, however, a leading question may be introduced in the notes, in the preparation of which a manuscript book, rather than detached sheets, should be used. A separate book for every subject may be provided, and at first only the alternate pages used; thus leaving room for any additional matter which may from time to time occur, the result either of private reading or of experience in teaching. When delivering the lesson, it is not advisable that the note-book should be used, as the lesson should be thoroughly made up beforehand. To hold the book in the hand may possibly inspire a young teacher with confidence, and may afford the opportunity of returning to the lesson without difficulty if the attention has been distracted by any casual occurrence.
The remarks which have been made with regard to the preparation of lessons apply equally to subordinate teachers in schools. The master should inspect, daily, the monitors' notes before their lessons are given to the children.
On the subject of the various apparatus which have been invented to assist the teacher in his explanations, it will be more convenient to speak in future chapters, when treating of the particular subjects of instruction for which they are individually designed. There is, however, one article which, from its general use in teaching most subjects, may very properly be described here. This is the black board.
Black boards are made of various shapes and dimensions. Some are constructed to swing in frames, similar to looking-glasses; others consist only of a plain piece of board, which may be mounted upon an easel; and others slide up and down the grooves of two upright posts, being balanced by weights which pass over a pulley. Some are only painted black, while others have lines drawn upon one side, either for music or for teaching writing on the Mulhäuser system. Large framed slates are often used for the same purposes as the plain black board; and they are, in the opinion of most persons, preferable, because their surfaces are less likely to receive injury from being constantly written on. Black canvas and prepared iron are sometimes used, and have the advantage of cheapness.
The black board is intended to assist the teacher by enabling him to instruct his pupils through the sense of sight, at the same time that his oral teaching is addressed to their sense of hearing. The advantage thus derived is sufficiently evident of itself; and there can be no need of any argument to show its general utility. The black board has hitherto been mostly used in demonstrating the theory of mathematical science, which in National schools would not include more than the principles of elementary arithmetic, with occasional lessons on practical mechanics and the outlines of mathematical geography; but there is no reason that the use of the black board should not include other branches of education. Texts of Holy Scripture, facts in history, geography, &c., rules of grammar, difficult words in spelling, materials for composition, concise explanations, definitions, dates, illustrations by drawing, sketches, formation of letters in writing, &c. &c., are a few of the subjects which the teacher may very appropriately exhibit to his class through the medium of the black board or large demonstration slate.
ON RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.
In religious teaching the National School is the handmaid of the Church; the lessons therefore which the master imparts should in all respects be subordinate to those of the parochial clergyman. It would conduce very materially to the welfare of a school if every minister would undertake to prescribe a weekly routine of religious instruction, taking care to ascertain, by his own personal examination, how far his directions have been carried out. He might even go so far, in the case of young and inexperienced teachers, as to examine the religious lessons before they are given, so that he may be sure that no errors are contained in them; and he might do this without laying himself open to the charge of unnecessary interference, upon the ground that the responsibilities of his high office require that he should as much as possible, in his own person, look after the spiritual teaching of the lambs of his flock.
The highest department of religious education is of course Holy Scripture. Some portion of the Bible should be read daily; not, however, as a reading lesson, but as an exercise intended to improve the minds and hearts of the children. It is not meant that no care need be taken by the teacher with regard to the actual reading of the sacred text: on the contrary, the strictest care should be taken that the children read it with intelligence, proper emphasis, and a due reverence for the importance of the subject. All that is intended is a caution against the use, too often made, of the Bible for teaching mere reading
and spelling, and its consequent degradation to the level of an ordinary class-book.
It has been already remarked that the reading of Holy Scripture should be preceded by the use of a collectthat, for example, for the Second Sunday in Advent. During the reading of any chapter the teacher should carefully notice everything which requires explanation— such as names of persons, places (these should be pointed out on a map), allusions to previous history, Eastern customs, prophecies, types, &c.; and, when the reading is finished, he should examine the class in order to ascertain how far his pupils have profited by the exercise in which they have been engaged.
In addition to this method of teaching the truths contained in the Bible, lessons may be given to individual classes, or to combined sections, in a catechetical form, without previous reading. For such instruction the historical parts of Scripture, the lives of eminent persons recorded in Holy Writ, our Saviour's parables, &c., are appropriate subjects. The teacher should be careful in these lessons not to run into mere matters of detail: he should, as he passes along, clear up difficulties, deduce principles, and give to the whole, as much as possible, a religious and moral application. It must be remembered that “ names and facts are chiefly useful from their connexion either with doctrines or moral rules; that the use of a proper name is to designate an individual of whom certain actions and characteristics are to be known and remembered; and that if no actions or characteristics are suggested by the name, no place for it in the memory is required."
In reference to the other subjects of religious instruction which should be taught in National Schools the writer is glad to have it in his power to quote the language of one who, from his high position in the Church